Anime Summer Season 2015 – Early Impressions
It is time to embark upon the adventure that is the Summer Season of Anime, 2015!
To reveal a bit of my writing process: As I start this, I have not seen every show yet. I think I’ve seen about a third. But I want to try to get my impressions down while they’re fairly fresh, so I’m starting the document early! So far there’s really only four shows I’ve seen that I’m fairly certain I’ll keep watching, but some potential ones as well.
As always, the idea here is to give some brief impressions after watching the first episode of a show, and see if there’s anything that stands out as immediately impressive, or immediately droppable, or just somewhere in the middle.
Edit: Added early impressions for imas: Cinderella Girls S2.
Akagami no Shirayukihime
Aka Snow White with the Red Hair.
Shirayuki is a herbalist girl with striking red hair who makes a living in the city of Tanbarun which is ruled by Prince Raj. When the jerk of a prince learns of Shirayuki’s hair he sends his creepiest man to inform her she’s been selected to become Raj’s concubine, so Shirayuki flees in the night and crosses over to a different kingdom where she hopes to start anew.
This show is really, really, really pretty, you guys. The art is so gorgeous, I could probably look at it all day. And while every bit of scenery has this beautiful painted look, they still manage to make the characters fit in well with it. It is so pretty.
It also helps that the show itself seems to be quite good. It references European fairytales a lot, and it’s been pretty clever with it. Evokes a lot of that Disney feel, in good ways. And Shirayuki herself seems to be a pretty awesome character, and she meets some good people during her flight. And Prince Raj is just as easy to hate as you’d hope. It really doesn’t take long to get the measure of that man. I really wish he had somehow caught on fire. I wanted to see him burn.
I am not sure where the show is going from here, but I am intrigued to follow along for a bit longer.
Aoharu x Kikanjuu [Dropped]
Aka Aoharu x Machine Gun.
A girl named Hotaru who likes to dress like a boy, and is frequently mistaken for one, has a rather zealous desire to oppose evil, and ends up picking fights with a lot of people. She’s actually quite good at it. Fighting, that is. She then gets mixed up in some trouble at a host club, and to pay for the damages she gets drafted into the club’s airsoft team. Which is boys only, but she fails at telling anyone there she’s not a boy.
I mean… it seems like a perfectly fine show for people who are interested in this stuff. I am not one of those people. There’s not really anything in here I can point to as expressly bad, I just don’t have any interest in watching any more of this, especially since the preview for episode 2 promised even more gender-based misunderstandings, ho ho ho.
Bikini Warriors [Dropped]
Turn back, traveller. This way lies only sadness.
Chaos Dragon: Sekiryuu Seneki
Aka Red Dragon War.
The isle of Nil Kamui has been invaded by two countries who are now fighting over control of it. The island’s guardian, the Red Dragon, has seemingly gone berserk and is killing the inhabitants on the island he’s supposed to guard, and little prince Ibuki has to rise and become king after the rest of his family died when the royal palace was attacked.
At least, that’s how I remember it. I guess it was fairly okay? Nothing especially exciting in the first episode, even when the Actual Dragon appeared. Willing to give it another episode to see how that pans out, but this one seems like it will most likely be dropped as there are more interesting shows this season.
A properly Grade A+ Jerk has a power to possess anyone he sees for five seconds (during which his own body passes out), and uses this power to “punish” people he doesn’t like, to cheat his way into the school he wants, and to get a date with the girl he wants by casually endangering the lives of both her and a lorry driver. Then everything falls apart as he’s found out, since he’s not the only one around with a flawed superpower, and he has to transfer to a school with other kids that also have powers so they can keep an eye on him and basically force him to do community service for all the trouble he’s caused.
Not a bad concept at all, in theory, but I feel they kinda went well too far in making the protagonist an unlikeable jerk and near-murderer that I really have no interest in seeing this guy improve or “become a better human being”. Not even the admittedly intriguing concept of the various powers can keep me watching this one. I would basically take *anyone* else as a protagonist. But I’m sure it will work for some people, and that’s good for them.
We are yet again at half past the future, and people have colonised Mars and every other planet in the solar system. A school for training brilliant young people into becoming aircraft/spacecraft engineers is in a bit of hot water because they tend to spend too much money every year. And the school is corporate-run, so you know we can’t have that. During the very first episode they manage to run up a tab of 16 billion dollars. Even with future-inflation, that’s quite a lot. So the guy who is their boss, and conveniently the same age as them, transfers to the school and becomes part of their class to evaluate what sorts of cuts he can make to turn this school profitable, or at least less costly.
It all kinda came off as rather mediocre to me. No real characters that immediately stood out, not an especially interesting premise, not really much in the way of cool sci-fi, and an execution that was really only okay. And of course Boy Boss is a big jerk. I think I’ll give it one more episode to see if it gets better, but I don’t foresee myself following this one to the end.
A 3-min show focusing on the daily life of five siblings living on their own while their parents are overseas.
While I got a couple of weird vibes watching this, at a mere 3 minutes per week, I’m willing to let this one go for a bit longer. It’s from the same guys who did Military though, so I’m ready to drop this one at the drop of a hat.
A show about a small group of girls who have turned their school into their home after the zombie apocalypse happened.
I had read that much in the blurb beforehand, but as the first episode plays out, it’s not really clear whether the apocalypse is impending, or if it has already happened. I don’t really want to reveal too much, but let’s say it has my attention for now. This one seems like it could either go really right, or really, really wrong.
Set in some fictional American (or maybe European) city filled to the brim with mafia and corruption, our two “heroes” are the Handymen: A pair of excessively competent thugs for hire, who take basically any job from the locals, the mafia, or the corrupt cops, as a way to “keep order” in the city. New gangs are trying to muscle in on the area, and no one is happy about it.
This one goes in the “maybe” pile. I will need another episode or two to really get a good feeling for this one, I think, but based on the first episode it looks like it could have some merit. Definitely not what I expected from just seeing the promo image. It has that excessive blood-spurting thing going that you often see in grindhouse, and similar sensibilities in certain ways, but definitely a bit more vibrant. Also kinda makes me think “what if the Boondock Saints went for hire”.
Gatchaman Crowds Insight
The sequel to Gatchaman Crowds, and based on episodes 0 and 1, still a very solid show. I wasn’t quite sure where they would go with it, since the first series seemed to wrap things up pretty definitely, but here we are. The popular opinion of Crowds has dropped, and antagonistic Red Crowds are showing up and causing trouble to try to “kill the Crowds”. Because logic. Also, an alien has decided to come visit Earth, and there’s a new Gatchaman.
Even though I’m not sure a sequel was entirely necessary, it still feels good to see everyone again, especially getting to see how Rui fits into the Gatchaman team in episode 0.
One thing though… is it just me, or is Hajime’s bust substantially larger this time around? She was always rather booby, but when I go back to compare with the first series, she didn’t seem quite *this* booby back then… though it does seem like Berg Katze might be trapped in her chest at the moment, so maybe he adds some volume. This isn’t really a complaint, more an observation. It does stand out quite a lot.
Gate: Jietai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri
A gate to another world appears in Tokyo, and an army consisting of orcs, dragons, and what looks like Roman Legionnaires comes through and immediately starts attacking the populace. Our protagonist is an SDF officer who is close-by when it happens, and helps with the evacuation. He is also introduced as 33 years old, and an otaku. After the SDF shows up and eradicates this invasion, the gate is placed under protection. Later an armed expedition through it is planned, with the now promoted protagonist coming along.
Okay, first off: While it is somewhat refreshing to see an anime protagonist that is not a teenager for once, I do feel like the otaku bit was thrown in as a way to still make the character author-/audience-insert, because there’s not much else to his personality. Otherwise it seems like an okay show with some peculiarities, and I am interested to see a bit more of what they find on the other side of the gate. And the concept of “modern military vs fantasy army” is interesting, even though you would expect it to be a bit one-sided. Though after watching the OP, I have this worry that the show will find a way to become harem nonsense. We will see.
Also, there is a character literally named Piña Co Lada.
It’s the post-apocalypse again, and the world has gone to shit as usual. Weird monsters full of teeth called aragami roam the lands looking for humans to nom, and try to break into the few remaining secure settlements around. To combat these creatures, the humans have developed the God Eater program, which I can only assume allows humans to nom the aragami before they are nommed themselves. Main guy whom I’ve already forgotten the name of seems to be the first of a New-Type God Eater with some extra abilities he hasn’t quite figured out himself yet.
Apparently this is based off of a game, or is it a game series? I have no idea. The shows seems alright. Some nice action fluff that doesn’t require you to think too much. Though the first episode did not feature any actual god nomming, so I feel slightly lied to. Maybe that’s coming later.
There is one immediate issue though. The art. Friends who know more about this kind of stuff say it looks like rotoscoped CG, and whatever it is, it is rather unnerving. Knights of Sidonia had CG characters that seemed out of place against the backgrounds, but you kinda got used to it. It’s just how things were. Here though… it’s like they’ve tried to make CG characters look more hand-drawn, but the effect seems to have back-fired entirely. They look even more detached from the backgrounds than the Sidonia characters did, and it feels like their attempts to make them look more “natural” have landed them firmly in the uncanny valley. As I watch my subconscious just keeps telling that “this is wrong, this looks wrong”, and it’s kinda distracting. Whether I stick with this one might rely a lot on whether I can use to the weird art or not.
Aka My Two-Faced Little Sister.
Umaru is a super-popular girl around town, famed for her looks, her kindness, her aptitude in all things scholarly and athletic, and her modesty. She does her best to encourage and help others, and not brag about her achievements. To everyone she appears like the perfect teenage girl.
At home, where she lives with her elder brother Taihei, she has a tendency to turn into a chibi, throw off her clothes, put on a hamster hoodie, and sit on the computer or in front of the TV all day eating snacks and drinking cola. She makes as little effort as possible, and acts like a spoiled child towards her brother. She even frequently gets him in trouble by misrepresenting their interactions.
At first sight this show is amazing. I think I called chibi-Umaru my idol early on in the episode. Though I did feel that maybe her childishness and tantrums and such got a bit much about halfway through the episode. Perhaps that’s the idea. And it also doesn’t quite fit with how remarkably well she does in school. She gets perfect scores on all tests, even though she seemingly never studies. She is best at every sport at school, even though she eats junk all day and doesn’t seem to like going outside. And she can play the piano so well that even her instructor is moved to tears, which the show tries to say is because she’s spent so much time at a keyboard and with a controller that her fingers are just that dexterous.
So I don’t know. It depends on the next few episodes, I suppose, since episode 1 was clearly just set-up for the current status.
Jitsu wa Watashi wa
Aka Actually, I Am.
Now as I’ve read a fair bit of the manga, I know a great deal more more than what the anime has shown so far. My problem is I’m bad at remembering names, and the first episode really only included Kuromine, Shiragami, and Mikan.
Kuromine Asahi is a boy famed in his class, and a lot of the school, for being absolutely incapable of lying or keeping a secret. He has a crush on Shiragami Youko, a secretive girl whom he discovers is actually a vampire when he tries to confess to her. Her father let her go to school on one condition, that no one could know she’s a vampire. Now that she’s been found out, she’ll have to leave. Kuromine now decides this is one secret he absolutely has to keep, and sort of screws up his confession while trying to communicate that, asking her to be friends instead of asking her out. Now you wouldn’t think that was a big deal, but it actually turns into an ongoing plot point, because Shiragami is too dense to realise Kuromine likes her like that, even though it’s really obvious.
I feel like it’s a bit early to say whether the anime adaptation really works or not. JWWW is mainly a comedy, and the first episode was too busy setting up the premise to show off its comedic talents. Speaking from the manga, JWWW works up to a point. See, it tries to do the same kind of comedy as Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, in a way. Everyone on the main cast is an idiot in their own way, yet they have a tendency to end up playing the straight-man to another character’s antics as often as they do antics themselves. And the manga is actually quite good at that, for a while.
The problem comes when the romance part starts overtaking the comedy part. See, Kuromine is another sufferer of Protagonist Romance Syndrome. At some point or another, almost every girl on the cast will realise/reveal that she has a crush on him. Which means that more and more the show starts re-telling the same two jokes: 1) Girl does a thing, others girls misunderstand Kuromine’s reaction to it. 2) Shiragami is confused as to which girl Kuromine likes ( which is always her, but she never catches on ), and she tries to help him get one of the other girls, even though Shiragami likes him back.
And more and more the show just turns into variations on those jokes about how the girls vie for Kuromine’s attention, and it gets quite stale quite fast. While it has a few characters that play off of eachother, it really could have used more of them, instead it keeps introducing more girls that play for Kuromine. Some of the best moments in the manga are the rivalry between Shiragami and the headmaster, often with Akemi “helping out”, while Kuromine and the teacher watch helplessly. It really could have used more in that vein, but I’ve already talked too long about this.
On the upside, animated Shiragami is really cute, with a very good voice actor.
Joukamachi no Dandelion
Aka Castle Town Dandelion.
In this town ( is it actually called Dandelion? I’m not sure the show actually said ) lives a family of nine kids with their mother and father. The twist is that their father is the king, and they’re all princes and princesses. Being of royal blood in this place means you have some superpower, which proves you’re royalty apparently. The sibling the show seems to focus on most is Akane, the red-haired, red-eyed girl, who is incredibly shy, but is still pretty popular with most people. The plot seems to revolve around how their father decided that which of the nine of them will succeed him should be decided by election, so it’s a bit of a popularity contest between the kids.
Overall seems like a pretty neat show, something I wouldn’t mind following. All the kids seem cute, they have some interesting powers, and the whole family just seem to be really sweet with eachother. I have one significant issue though. The level of humour in the show seems to be set at how many times people can accidentally see Akane’s underwear in an episode. It was four times in the first episode. Each time ruined the mood substantially.
It is awkward enough for me to not care to endure it, but it seems good enough otherwise that I am willing to give it one more chance. I’m giving episode 2 a 3-strike system. I will tolerate two underwear “jokes” (unless they’re so egregious they count for more than one offence), but if there’s a third I can’t be bothered any longer. There’s better stuff to follow this season.
Kuusen Madoushi Kouhosei no Kyoukan [Dropped]
Aka Sky Wizards Academy.
In a future where giant insects have chased the humans off of the surface, the survivors now live in floating cities where they train Sky Wizards to fight any insects that try to find them.
Not really a bad concept as such, and the animation looks mostly okay. However, I stopped watching when I realised that the show’s level of “humour” was accidental boob-grabbing. Seriously an anime trope that needs to be killed with fire. Much like those insects.
Little Witch Academia: Mahou Shikake no Parade [Short Film]
Aka Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade.
The sequel to Trigger’s much-adored Little Witch Academia is here thanks to Kickstarter, and this time Akko, Sucy, and Lotte get in trouble way too many times, and as punishment they have to organise this year’s Witch Parade.
I won’t spoil any more than that, but I will say that the whole thing is pretty good, and Akko learns a few things. If you liked the first one, I feel fairly certain you’ll like this one. In fact, you should just go watch them both.
Million Doll [Dropped]
A show about a shut-in who runs a popular idol blog, and doesn’t think other people are good enough fans. When there’s an idol group she likes, and writes about, she tends to influence a lot of people.
I’m not sure who this show is for, what audience it has, but I feel fairly certain I’m not part of it. There was nothing here that grabbed my interest.
It doesn’t help that the animation is quite bad. When they did a CG performance for one of the idol groups, that was even worse. Felt like I was watching the robot uprising happen. Wondered if the title was a reference to the classic Six Million Dollar Man. Probably not.
One thing that made me chuckle: The promo blurb said the main girl had a “special ability”, when they just meant her popular blog.
Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou [Dropped]
Aka Everyday Life With Monster Girls.
… look, it’s one guy and six monster girls who are apparently all his brides. It’s borderline porn harem nonsense. I’m sure it’s fine for those who like that stuff.
But the first thing that happens is that the guy jerks off the lamia’s ( snake girl ) tail until she has an orgasm, because she was crushing him in her attempt to snuggle up to his warmth. Since lamias are cold-blooded.
This isn’t for me. But for those who like this stuff, I do hope you have fun with it.
Okusama ga Seitokaichou! [Dropped]
Aka My Wife Is The Student Council President!
A girl wins the student council president election by throwing condoms into the crowd, and then shows up at her running mate’s house, saying she is now his wife, because when they were both 3 years old, their parents got drunk together and made a promise, and-
It’s porn. The first episode only goes softcore, and maybe that’s the limit, but it’s porn. And if that’s what you want, knock yourself out. It’s there. No point in not watching the uncensored version. And for what it’s worth, it doesn’t seem to be offensive in any way. I didn’t pick up any especially creepy or rapey vibes in the first episode at least. But personally, if I want porn, I know better places to find it, and better porn at that.
It is the year 2138 ( if I did my math right ) and a Dive MMORPG ( I think they mean VR tech a la Sword Art Online ) called Yggdrasil is about to shut down its servers. Certain players check in for the last day before they log out for good, and one of them is a Guild Leader called Momonga, who plays a skeleton wizard. It seems there’s much freedom in Yggdrasil, both in character creation and character actions. Momonga’s guild built a whole dungeon for other players to come raid, and he’s just walking around that at the end, looking at all they have created, including special NPCs, and reliving the memories.
When the time comes for the servers to shut down, he figures he can just wait until that kicks him out, but once the clock ticks over the deadline, he’s still there. And he can’t access any of the UI any longer. And the NPCs suddenly seem a lot more alive, and are treating him as the lord of the dungeon.
I had no expectations of this going into it, I hadn’t even looked up what it was about. And what I found was a delightful surprise. I really enjoyed this opening episode, and I was sad when it was over, because I just wanted more. I think it’s going to aim for Momonga taking his troops/underlings and trying to take control of the world of Yggdrasil now that it’s no longer a game, and I love stories that flip things around and make the “bad guy” the protagonist.
Prison School [Dropped]
A previously all-girl school have just started accepting male students, but only five make the cut. They find it surprisingly hard to even talk to any of the girls though, as none seem willing to talk back to them. After they decide to attempt to peep at girls’ bath, they get caught and imprisoned by the Underground Student Council.
That was as far as I managed to get, even with a lot of skipping. This is trash. Trash trash trash. Utter garbage. Just junk. Worthless.
Ranpo Kitan – Game of Laplace
This story seems to centre around a boy named Kobayashi who is typically quite bored with the world, when he suddenly gets wrapped up in a murder mystery as the main suspect, which he describes as “fun”. He describes solving this mystery as the first thing to give his life meaning. So along with his only friend (who might have a crush on him) he seeks out a genius detective called Akechi and asks to be his assistant.
Honestly the first positive surprise I ran into this season. It seems well-written, the characters seem well-developed, and the premise is fairly interesting. It also does this cool thing where most of the show appears as Kobayashi sees the world. Because pretty much everything bores him, colours are often muted, and other people appear as grey outlines that talk in muffled voices. But when he acknowledges a person, when they become real to him, the outline fills in and you see them as normal. It is also interesting in how it sometimes will show which part of a person becomes real first, and acts as a sort of trigger for him to really notice them.
It is mostly a feeling, but I do think this has the potential to be good, and I’ve always liked murder mysteries anyway.
Rokka no Yuusha
Aka Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers.
Every so often an entity called the Demon God awakens and tries to kill everything, so the Goddess of Fate selects six heroes to go and put it back to sleep. Adlet Mayer is quite adamant about being selected, so he determines to show off and prove himself so the Goddess knows he’s a good candidate for the next awakening. He’s been trained to fight the Demon God from a young age, and has a feeling the next awakening is close at hand. Spoiler: It happens in the first episode.
Now this one I am actually fairly interested in. While Adlet is a bit cocky, he doesn’t seem like a bad guy, and the Blade Princess is quite cool. We’ll see how it goes. Considering what they showed in episode 1, I do feel a little miffed that the little description blurb gave away the twist that could still be a few episodes off. Though, knowing that, I could see how the first episode was setting it up, which I guess was kinda neat.
Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu na Sekai [Dropped]
Aka A Boring World Where The Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist.
That name is way too long…
It is the not-too-distant future, and 16 years prior to the anime’s start, Japan introduced the Public Decency law which outlawed saying “sexual words” in public, banned porn, and made it illegal for men to touch women. Everyone is fitted with a censorship collar that goes off if they say a “bad word”, the Decency Police are everywhere, and there are schools dedicated to teaching kids “good morality”.
Long story short, this is basically MRA: The Anime. So much of what is put forth here I recognise from the delusional rants of MRAs/GG and others who are worried about the so-called “SJWs” and lamenting how “political correctness has gone too far”. Which could have been done as an amusing parody of these ideas, but instead plays out as if the writers actually believe this is what’s going to happen if “SJWs win”. Complete with validating beliefs that women tend to just make up claims of sexual harassment and assault to make money. It is as absurdly hilarious as it is utterly appalling. I’m sure there’s an audience out there for this anime. And I’m sure that I don’t want any of those people in my life.
Sore ga Seiyuu!
Aka Seiyu’s Life, aka That’s a Voice Actor’s Life.
This show seems to be inspired by Shirobako’s example, but has chosen to focus on the career and life of a voice actor, or seiyu. The main characters are three brightly coloured girls, Futaba in purple hair, Ichigo in pink hair, and Rin in green hair.
While Shirobako is a tough act to live up to, and I’m not sure it can manage that, I do think it seems interesting enough to keep following. While Futaba and Ichigo are both fresh at this, Rin has been in the business for a few years, and I expect she’ll be teaching the other two a bit. I think this has the potential to be both sweet and informative, even if it seems to lack a little of that grounded feeling that I got from Shirobako. Maybe that will come as episodes progress.
The CG microphones REALLY stand out though.
The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls 2nd Season
Well, all the girls are back for a second series, which is pretty much just a continuation of the first, as it starts a month later. All the various idol groups they formed, and the combined Cinderella Girls album, are doing well, and things seem to be settling into a “normal” idol life for the girls, until a new director arrives, who has some ideas for shaking things up.
Not the most exciting starter episode really. I felt like the first half was rather weak, but it did pick up in the second half. This is basically for fans of S1 who wanted more. I’m okay with that.
Ushio to Tora [Dropped]
Aka Ushio and Tora.
Shounen stuff about a spear called the Beast Spear, and a boy named Ushio, and someone named Tora who may or may not be a beast.
I honestly can’t tell you a lot, because I lasted a total of 1 minute and 28 seconds before I was absolutely certain that this held no interest to me, and there was no point in watching any more.
The titular Kohashi Wakaba is a girl from a rich family who has never really had friends or a normal school life, but she ends up in a regular school and quickly hits it off with three other girls, even though she isn’t quite sure how to interact with other people her age. She has a not-so-secret fascination for the trendy and girly ‘gyaru’ subculture, and picks Moeko aka Moe-chan as her inspiration for how to become more gyaru.
This is the sort of ultra-cute, ultra-adorable, brightly coloured slice of life stuff that I can’t really get enough of. I’ve only watched one episode, and I feel like I love it already. So long as it doesn’t become monumentally dull ( looking at you, Girl Friend Beta ), I’ll probably watch this one till the end.
And that’s the Summer season in full swing. Between Akagami, Overlord and Ranpo Kitan, it seems like this season might have some heavier hitters than the either Winter or Spring did. Maybe some of the others will surprise too.
Though I think I am mostly surprised that two shows that are basically porn ended up in the main season line-up.
See you again for the mid-season update!