Just in time to catch the start of the familiar drone of cicadas, the new batch of anime is here! Personally, I intend to enjoy it while luxuriating in front of my brand spankin’ new aircon unit – even through I’ll also be internally wincing nearly every single time I come across someone else’s obligatory first impressions post. (You guys do know that ‘summer’ isn’t a proper noun, right? Or maybe you just really like Capitalizing Unnecessary Words, in which case, sorry for prematurely judging you.) Anyhow, onto the shows! As usual, I’ll be going in order of my impressions from worst to best based on the premiere episode of each title.
Score: 4/10 (Dropped)
This isn’t so much bad as it is profoundly boring, and mostly seems like just an excuse to get a bunch of cute schoolgirls in one place. The plot sounds vaguely promising, but I came to realise almost immediately that the sci-fi aspects of the show are there primarily for the sake of making a pretense of originality, when really this is much more a slice-of-life kind of title. Again, this isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, and in all fairness, it’s not all about the girls and their front-zip body suits – there are at least two main male characters, and several other male supporting characters. However, the main focus looks like it’s going to be on Mizuki and Iris, in whom I have very little interest, and I honestly could not force myself to watch a second episode. It really was just that dull to me.
Rokka no Yuusha/Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers
Score: 5/10 (Dropped)
This is a huge waste of some genuinely cool character designs and a wonderfully unique Aztec-inspired setting. If the former didn’t focus on ridiculous body armour and awkward cleavage shots, and if the latter wasn’t quickly glossed over in favour of poorly-delivered exposition, I might have stuck around to watch more. As it is, Rokka’s lovely artwork and promising cultural backdrop take a distant second place to bad scripting and stupid outfit-porn, which is a real shame given what the show could be capable of. I hadn’t remembered that Rokka was based on a male-targeted light novel series until I looked it up again, but somehow that knowledge didn’t come as a surprise.
Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace/Mysterious Stories of Ranpo: Game of Laplace
Score: 5/10 (Dropped)
Despite not being much of a horror fan, I was mildly optimistic about Game of Laplace thanks to my heartfelt love affair with Edogawa Ranpo’s Daughter of Twenty Faces, in which Akechi appears as a supporting character. Unfortunately, Akechi as depicted in Laplace is an arrogant, pill-popping high school-aged detective, and even more unfortunately, main character Kobayashi comes across as a total psychopath. The guy’s so profoundly bored with life (sob sob) that his reaction to waking up to the grisly murder of his own homeroom teacher with the murder weapon in his hand is, “Sweet, finally some excitement around here.” I’m impressed with the production values – Laplace has got undeniable visual flair, and the first minute or so looked especially compelling and high-quality – but I found the characters so utterly dislikeable (or in the replacement homeroom teacher’s case, utterly ridiculous) that I’m having trouble coming up with anything else positive to say about it. Objectively, this is probably going to be an okay series. Subjectively, I actively disliked what little I saw of it.
Score: 6/10 (Dropped)
On paper, Charlotte is not my kind of show – too moe, too harem-ey. The only reason it was on my radar at all is because of its associations with Angel Beats!, which I know all the cool kids love to hate on but which, despite its flaws, I un-ironically love with every fiber of my being. That said, I’ve never been a fan of P.A. Works, and it seems pretty clear that Charlotte will be filled with a bunch of girls on permanent wish-fulfillment duty. To give credit where it’s due, I do think the timing of the comedy is actually pretty good here – it’s just that the comedy itself caters to a fairly specific taste. I predict that a few select people will adore this show and that everyone else will loathe it to the end of time; much like Sword Art Online, it’s destined to become the new whipping boy of the anime community. Personally, I don’t hate it, but it’s also not really my shtick, so I’ll be dropping this one too.
As the third season of this show, I doubt there’ll be any surprises here – viewers should know exactly what they’re getting into if they saw anything at all of the previous two seasons, even just a couple of minutes of it. Annoyingly catchy OP? Check. Humour that absolutely shouldn’t work for me but somehow does anyway? Check. Kyoko, Satou, and Souma still easily the best characters of the entire show? Check, check, check. If, like me, you’re perfectly content with more of the same, great. If for some reason you’re expecting anything else, you’ll be wasting your time.
Junjou Romantica 3
Otherwise known as Every Single Cliché of the BL Genre Ever. I was honestly surprised to see Junjou Romantica get green-lit for a third season despite its popularity – it’s been close to 7 years since the second season now, and it’s not as though the source material has been lacking over that time – but hey, I’m not complaining. Other BL fans might be, of course, since admittedly this title features some of the most ridiculous, formulaic, and sometimes downright disturbing aspects of the genre; it’s also replaced Gravitation as the gateway drug to BL in general, which doesn’t exactly spell wonders for the fandom. But so help me, I enjoy the show anyway, cheesy stereotypes and all. The humour works for me, at least when it doesn’t delve into creepster territory, and it looks as though Miyagi and Shinobu have been taken out of this season entirely, which I am absolutely okay with – they were by far the least popular pairing for a reason. It’s a bit weird not having Pigstar doing the OP, but that’s about the only thing that bugs me so far.
Part two of Durarara’s second season picks up directly from where we left off last time, meaning that if for some reason you’ve only just decided to start watching this show now, you’ll be mighty confused. Like Working, people should know by now exactly what to expect and whether or not they’ll enjoy it, and fans should be pleased to see that little time is wasted getting right back into the swing of things. I don’t know that I care much for either the OP or ED theme, but otherwise, I’m perfectly happy going along for the ride as usual.
Non Non Biyori Repeat
D’aww. Again, if you’ve seen the first season of Non Non Biyori then you should know exactly what to expect of Repeat – a light-hearted slice-of-life series with little action or drama of any kind, but with gorgeously lush visuals and a beautifully soothing quality. Moe isn’t usually my thing, but with zero fanservice and a relatively unique setting of extreme rural Japan, I’ve got a soft spot for this show; it’s cute without being cloyingly so, and it’s amusing in a way that I think is pretty accessible to just about any audience. Given the plot (or lack thereof) of this title, prior knowledge of the series won’t be necessary, so even if you haven’t yet seen anything of Non Non Biyori, I recommend Repeat if you’re after something calming, undemanding, and easy on the eyes.
Akagami no Shirayuki-hime/Snow White with the Red Hair
This is a surprisingly easygoing watch – I was expecting something along more melodramatic lines, but I’m glad to see that this show doesn’t try to take itself too seriously. From the laughably narcissistic first prince to the occasionally ridiculous scripting (“I’ve been building up an immunity to poisons slowly in case I ever get poisoned”… uh huh), Shirayuki is obviously not too worried about plausibility. And you know what, I’m pretty okay with that, because coupled with the breezy pacing and light-hearted sense of humour, it somehow all just works. Even better, Shirayuki herself comes across as smart, spunky, and perfectly capable despite her end-of-episode princely ‘rescue’. I’m liking the character designs, too – in true shoujo fashion, they’re pretty and involve plenty of sparkling, but the artwork is simple, clean, and bright. I don’t know whether Shirayuki will continue to remain largely episodic or if there’s going to be a larger story at play throughout most of the show, but either way I’ll probably be happy.
The name makes me think of the rap genre which is highly unfortunate, but even so, this is easily the front-runner of the summer season for me. It reminds me of Black Lagoon in terms of atmosphere – they’ve got that whole gritty lowlife thing down pat, and there’s plenty of sex, drugs and violence to go round – but thankfully, Gangsta doesn’t come across like it’s trying too hard to be “dark” and “edgy” like some shows I could name (looking at you, Elfen Lied/Deadman Wonderland/Shingeki no Kyojin). Gangsta is certainly violent and unsentimental, but I don’t think it depicts all of its unsavoury content just to seem cool; for the moment at least, I’m crediting it with more subtlety than that. I also approve of its attention to detail with Nic’s character, who is deaf and communicates mostly in sign language, and whose speech is therefore slurred and indistinct whenever he chooses to communicate verbally. His brotherly, comradely relationship with work partner Worick gives me the warm fuzzies despite the fact that both men are essentially psychopathic, and for me will likely be one of the show’s main highlights.
Note that I’ll also be giving Makura no Danshi/Pillow Boys a watch when that starts airing in a few days – it sounds hilarious, and I’m genuinely curious as to how it’s going to work… or not work, either way. As a series of 4-minute shorts though, I’m not too bothered about whether or not I end up talking about it here. Other than that, there you have it: 10 shows sampled and 6 shows kept, 4 of which are sequels. For me, that’s about average for the summer season. Since I’m also still watching Arslan Senki and Ore Monogatari from spring, my current weekly anime viewing schedule is comfortably full.
Question of the post: How’s the new season shaping up for you? Any titles I missed out on that you’d consider a must-watch?