Okay, so let’s go through what we’ve got this Summer. To be honest, I wasn’t very excited for this season. Perhaps the only thing that really caught my attention was Food Wars! since it’s a manga that I’m actually following. Everything else is pretty much a wild card – even the “venerable” Psycho Mob 100 which is, apparently, the show “to look out for” (most likely because of its OPM roots). Times like these are pretty much shooting in the dark, and though I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the results, there weren’t that many shows that I could honestly say weren’t very good save for a few. And these shows were probably just formulaic and, well, not very engaging. I’ve wondered for a while if it’s because I’m getting older (one of the shows I decided to drop was a Visual Art’s/KEY work, which used to be a non-negotiable probably 10 years back), but either way it’s been a steady first week, but really just one wild card after another.
But before everything else, I’d like to apologize for disappearing last season. I mentioned in my previous Spring impressions that I was utterly floored at how writers are able to do the things that they do every season — and that still holds today. The difference is that I’m not a professional writer — I just like to rant about anime and share my thoughts. With that put into perspective, I’m a little more pragmatic as far as how frequently I can update the site. Either way, all that matters is the anime — so enough talk, and let’s do this!
Okay, this is a little unfair — but I ended up finishing ReLIFE in one sitting, even though I promised myself that I’d pace it. It was just that good. Comparing it to the original web comic, I can say with confidence that the anime is just so much better. It’s more mature, more well thought out, and directed so carefully that it’s hard to believe that this is Tomochi Kosaka’s (animation director Sankarea, Yowamushi Pedal) first time in the director’s chair. In terms of understanding the adolescent psyche, it comes pretty close to Oregairu, but adds to this a very nuanced and well-tempered maturity with its main character, Kaizaki. It’s been a while since I’ve found a romcom that I can actually recommend with confidence apart from ToraDora, so please — by all means, watch this show!
#2 Sweetness & Lightning
What’s up with all of the slice-of-life shows these days? Why are they so friggin’ good? Sweetness & Lightning can be summed up as Koufuku Graffiti meets Usagi Drop minus the food sex and (questionable) cradle snatching. But both of those shows were great, and putting them together gives us this wonderful show that is both heartwarming and endearing. Even the direction is just so brilliant — utilizing wonderful close up shots that highlight subtle movements and character sensibilities. And this is surprising coming from director Tarou Iwasaki, whose only show that comes close to this genre is One Week Friends. If you’re looking for a good healing show, this is the one to pick up!
#3 Planetarian ~the reverie of a little planet~
I wasn’t planning on watching this show, but after discovering that it was based off of a KEY/Visual Art’s (CLANAAD, Kanon, Angel Beat’s) visual novel, I became curious. Indeed, shows that feature “robot love” can be viewed as a borderline fetish, but the depiction of a cute robot left behind in a gloomy post-apocalyptic world is an intriguing concept. Especially when this is paired with a calloused main protagonist whose sole mission is survival. The show uses more indirect and incidental framing to allow us to probe the mind of the main character, which allows us to realize that his choice in humoring the robot is less a “fetish” than it is simply an attraction towards the warmth of “humanness” as expressed (ironically) by a robot. I feel like this is an understated gem by the otherwise famous studio that brought us works like CLANNAD, and I have a hunch I’m going to enjoy this show — even if it’s obvious that there’s gonna be a lot of feels along the way.
#4 Alderamin on the Sky
Some people might have a beef with the animation style given its departure from the original, but I honestly like it. That and the fact that the whole idea looks like “what Legend of Galactic Heroes would be like if it took place in Ivalice”. The first episode was engaging, featuring a pretty smug main character and a whole slew of “typicals”. Either way, things are looking up for this show, and I can’t wait to see where it takes us.
#5 91 days
Aesthetically, this show is brilliant. Slate gray watercolored backgrounds paint the mental undertones that underscore the grim nature of this story — a revenge planned years in the making. I’m not really one for excessive violence, but the whole production and use of action scenes seems purposeful enough — intent on pushing forward the main character’s mission as a righteous one, even if at the end of it all, he’s simply out to commit murder. Shows that take place in a European setting are always a welcome change of pace, so this looks like it’s going to be a fun suspense show for the hot summer days.
#6 Active Raid 2nd
First season aside, the pilot episode for the 2nd season of Active Raid was actually legitimately fun! The kooky habits of the 8th division are up on display, and ridiculous side comments and more dancing Liko flood the screen. Even their mission was a nice reboot from where they left off, and the whole world building schema of how Japan has coped with the existence of a Wilwear-powered police force shows that the show still does what it does best. But if history were to repeat itself, then I’m pretty sure the ridiculous Mytos will rear its ugly head again and make everything look like a big joke. But as far as first episodes go, this was truly not bad at all.
I might have given this show a pretty high score at first, but that was because I hadn’t watched anything else the season had to offer. This show’s pilot episode was intriguing at best, but it really laid it down thick that one of the characters was gonna die. I liked the whole reverse time capsule concept, and the use of a “letter from the future” is an interesting concept that begs the viewer to keep watching. I just can’t shake the feeling that there are so many ways for this type of story to fail given the variables its set out before itself, so here’s to hoping.
#8 NEW GAME!
I love cute girls doing cute things when they do the things I like doing. Which is why BAKUON! didn’t really do it for me. But when a girl starts singing “toilet~ toilet~” to the tune of the Lost Woods from Zelda: Ocarina of Time, then I know we have a winner. Indeed, this show is silly fun, and the comedy isn’t exactly oscar-worthy either, but it’s always so fun to enjoy the company of such lovable people. The second episode loses momentum a bit, so I’m hoping this show tries to maintain a certain amount of consistency in terms of both comedy and easter eggs (because we need those easter eggs).
#9 Food Wars! The Second Plate
I’m a big fan of this series, which means I’m also very critical about the show in general. The first episode was rushed to the extreme, watering down the sentimental appeal of Soma’s victory over Alice. I’m pretty sure it’s in an effort to move the Autumn Elections forward, but this was at the expense of making what is perhaps a crucial moment in the characterization of Alice “half-baked”. Still, the show keeps the “food sex” consistently fresh, so here’s to more clothes-busting yumminess.
#10 Thunderbolt Fantasy
You can complain all you want, but this show is still included in this list. I think anyone who watches enough anime will appreciate this show for what its worth — and yes, it’s worth it. Sorta. Or maybe until I think it’s just ridiculous and I’ll leave it at that. This show is basically Crouching Tiger; Hidden Dragon meets Samurai X. Sure, a lot of things are over the top here, but it seems pretty fitting for something that’s trying to be a Chinese epic. My only wish is that it was in Mandarin dub instead of Japanese. Weird, I know.
#11 Tales of Zestiria the X
I feel a little odd placing this all the way down here, but I think that’s because the first episode was more of world building. The second episode (which is actually the first… because the first was the zeroth episode… mind=blown) was still a bit more on world building, but now with the introduction of the main character. Of course, I can’t deny that the visuals are stunning. I’m not too picky about the excessive use of 3D, but some sequences can look a little plasticky, while others have the “flatness” of the characters accentuated due to the grandiosity of scale. But “grandiose” is a fitting word for this fantasy epic lead by UFOTable. I honestly would like to believe that this show is going to be great, but as first impressions go, it’s off to a lukewarm start. Nothing exciting yet, but I’m hoping for the best.
#12 Psycho Mob 100
This show was supposedly the “top dog” of the season — the most highly anticipated title coming from the mind of ONE, who brought to us the infamous One Punch Man. Lead by studio Bones, the animation truly is a spectacle in every sense of the word. But the eccentricity and eclecticism in both humor and storytelling isn’t really a good way to start. Stuff just kinda happen, and along with that a bunch of crazy facial expressions and ugly “NPCs”. Then again, every important character seems to look like Saitama anyway, so who am I kidding? I’d like to think that there’s a lot more to expect from this show, but this first episode wasn’t very encouraging, unfortunately.
#13 Taboo Tattoo
I think I’m getting too old for this. Teenagers with superpowers doing top secret stuff sounded cool a few years back, but for some reason I can’t help but look at this show and feel like it isn’t for me. Granted that the animation is quite impressive, boasting a lot of neat camera tricks that heighten the action and really drive home the impact. Other than that, all I see is a slugger that screams Shakugan no Shana meets Kurokami the Animation. I think this is gonna be a fun show for some, but it’s just so formulaic at this point that I think I can stand to skip out on this one for now.
I honestly don’t know what to say. It definitely LOOKS like something done by KEY/Visual Art’s, but the dialogue and comedy are just so random and disorganized that I have absolutely no patience for this type of nonsense. The comedy is mostly slapstick, if not off-the-wall or just plain stupid. The plot kinda reminds me of Myriad Colors Phantom World but with a heavier emphasis on the harem building aspect. I honestly think I’m just too old for shows like this now — and that kinda scares me.
#15 Qualidea Code
The world almost ended. Kids protect the world now. MC is a dick. This show looks like fun, but its production reminds me of Asterisk Wars so much that I can’t even feel the intensity of that major battle in the latter half of the premier episode. I dunno.
Looking at this list, I’ve come to realize that most of the shows are actually within level footing, except for the top three and bottom three. Everything else in the middle consist of those “wild cards” that I keep talking about. This season could probably be one of the best seasons yet, or it could just bomb the hell out. I dunno. All I can do is hope for the best.