Release date: October, 2012
Creator: Inoue, Jun'ya (Manga, 2009)
Genre: Psychological, Action, Romance, Sci-fi
Story: Sakamoto Ryouta is an average 22-year-old guy who can be classified as a NEET. He has no job and spends most of his time playing the popular online game "BTOOOM!". Seemingly a nobody in real life, in the game, Ryouta is an elite, 4-star player admired by everyone. One day, Ryouta wakes up and finds himself on a tropical island with no memory of how he got there. Eventually, he realizes that he's been placed in a real-life version of "BTOOOM."
Review: At first glance, this may seem like a ripoff of Battle Royale but after getting into the plot, it really is a work of its own. I feel like the story is more developed and character motives are better emphasized.
I see Ryouta as an Anti-Light Yagami because of his similar appearance and strategical talent; although instead of being a popular and 'perfect' guy in real-life, he's the opposite yet there's a good quality that he has deep down.
There's some really great character building in this anime focusing on Human issues of trust and selflessness. Every character, even side characters, get proper attention and have their motives well spelled out. This gives the anime a well balanced set of characters in terms of how much attention they all get and how the audience has a chance to connect with each of them.
The animation is really nice for a show that asks at the end of the series if it should continue or not. The scenery and dramatic/action scenes are great fun to watch.
Overall, I really enjoyed watching this anime and it definitely kept me on my toes. Characters have to go through a lot of crazy sh*t and it's fairly realistic. I really hope they'll continue with season 2.
Release date: October, 2012
Creator: Suzuki, Shingo; GoRa; Studio GoHands (Anime, 2012)
Genre: Supernatural, Action, Mystery
Story: Isana Yashiro attends Ashinaka high school which is located on an island outside the high-tech Shizume City. His carefree life comes to an end when a video of a guy who looks just like him murders Totsuka Tatara and goes viral. Now he's the target of the infamous group HOMRA and a mysterious man named Yatogami Kurou who believes that he is the next 'Colorless King'. Kurou decides to give him a chance to prove his innocence and helps him to evade HOMRA along with a girl who calls herself Neko.
Review: My first impression of this anime was that the colors were really saturated, lol. But on a more serious note, K seems to try really hard to make itself appear cool and polished, which it definitely is on the latter. The animation is very pretty and the backgrounds are top notch. One little thing I wasn't a big fan of was the animators recycling fighting stances of characters from the opening song video and using them multiple times in various episodes. I'm sorry but in my eyes, it seemed lazy.
The story takes its sweet time getting somewhere and for the first half of the season, mostly flitted around the core plot, apparently content with telling short, unnecessary side stories. I didn't really feel that sad after seeing the ending.. Maybe it's the average storytelling. I wish the writers didn't keep so much info from us and was more generous in letting the viewers know what the hell was going on.
I liked this series although I felt it was detached and the writers withheld too much information. I don't even think reading K-Wiki beforehand would change my opinion. The storytelling was mediocre and it took me an eternity to get through only 13 episodes simply because it didn't keep my interest. Despite my apprehensions, I still like the characters and I hope that they improve on their storytelling if they ever make a second season.
Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club
Release date: July, 2013
Creator: Ouji, Kouji (Light Novel "High Speed!", 2013)
Genre: Slice-of-life, Sports
Story: Haruka, Makoto, Nagisa, and Rin all have one thing in common, girly names. They also all happen to have a love for swimming. After winning their elementary school relay tournament as a team, they parted ways with Rin who moved to Australia to attend a private swimming school. Years later, Rin shows up in Japan again and challenges Haruka to a race. After defeating Haruka, Rin is still disappointed because he doesn't feel like he truly won. Nagisa is inspired to create a swimming club at their high school and eventually gets enough people enrolled; they decide to call it the Iwatobi Swim Club and train together in hopes of meeting Rin in the swimming tournament finals.
Review: Free! appears to be a fan-service kind of anime that's aimed towards fujoshi, although this is an unfair statement. The story is pretty well done (as expected of Kyoto Animation, aka, King of slice-of-life anime) and delves deep into a few characters' back stories, the core mystery being why Haruka (physically and mentally) loves the water so much and why Rin has a permanent stick up his ass.
I'm a bit sad that many characters didn't get as much attention as others and were mostly there for show. The writers seemed to put all their eggs into the Rin and Haruka baskets and neglected everyone else, leaving them to be forevermore floating in the pool of common character stereotypes with nothing unique to their names.
I can tell the studio really cares about this anime because of how carefully and meticulously they animate the water and anything to do with it, especially how Haruka's eyes glisten when swimming is mentioned. Lets not forget about all the muscles and shirtless men! It's fan-service for women, what can I say... The fan-service is like this for the first half of the anime and then sort of tapers off in the second half, focusing more on storytelling and letting the fan-service take a back seat.
I think this is a good anime to watch if you like bromance and are curious to see what would happen if Kyoto Animation created a slice-of-life anime with shirtless guys instead of moe girls. In this case, the story does more for me than the fan-service.