Summer 2015 Anime: First Impressions (Part 1)

Hi, hi, sorry I’m late! Let me finish this piece of toast and we’ll get started!

gulp

All better! Anyways, good day all! Are you ready to wade through the cesspool of anime premieres to find a few shows that are actually worth your while? cocks head cheekily/cutely  Good, because it’s finally that time of year. Summer~. And oh geez, why do all the show have to come out all at the same time? It’s annoying… (note: none of the shows covered in this issue were among my top anticipated titles for the season)

Gate

Fantasy Fun: Gate, Rokka, & Ushio to Tora

Gate: Yeah, this was the first full-length show I watched of the first season…and it wasn’t as terrible as I was expected, if not terribly engaging beyond a clinical sort of storytelling efficiency. In the end, I guess I prefer that to murderously slow exposition, but there’s very little flavor here that isn’t included in the collection of very colorful and very cute anime girls teased in a few quick cuts. When Gate was the only thing I’d watched, that seemed like enough, but given some of the more flavorful offerings the season has already served up, it seems like Gate‘s probably not much more than leftovers at this point. And I’ve still got a number of dishes left to try. Gate‘s also got a number of red flags for me already—giddy militarism, love for modern weaponry, and a pervy middle-aged man playing around with powerful (and powerfully cute) girls who deserve better. There are just so many traps here and I’m not confident that Gate can avoid all of them. Verdict: wobbling on the edge of getting dropped.

Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers-: Unlike GateRokka had exposition problems—despite some attempts at clever screen direction and a cute “maid” helping out, the world building/plot set-up in the middle part of the episode was long, tedious, and at least partially unnecessary. However! Rokka does have style, likable characters, a solid feel for relational chemistry, and (at the very least) seems interested in having a whole lot of fun while telling an engaging yarn. Although Passione is the studio behind the narrative/thematic/etc. atrocity that was Rail Wars!, I did think that yucky show had a nice aesthetic—a trait that is shared by Rokka and bolstered by really neat art design. The main concern I have with Rokka is that this seems to be a story far better suited to being digested all at once, rather than in 13 individual segments. I suspect this could be a favorite of the season for me, and I’m loathe to potentially ruin it by killing the narrative motion with weeklong gaps. Verdict: on hold for post-season marathon.

Rokka

Don’t look at me like that, I swear I’ll come back to watch your show!

Ushio to Tora: Unlike RokkaUshio to Tora just exudes a “weekly watch” feeling. It could be thanks to the recognizable shounen manga episodic story structure or the decidedly more traditional shounen vibe this 90s manga adaptation gives off, but whatever the case may be, Ushio to Tora seems like a super solid production with huge entertainment potential. Ushio is your standard 90s anime protagonist—which actually makes him really unique and refreshing in the current anime marketplace (consider him against the otaku self-insert from Gate), and Tora strikes the perfect balance between threatening and amusing. The art style shifts between comedy-style and seriousawesome-style are ugly effective, and the tonal switches managed well enough to avoid the nasty feeling of whiplash. Throw in the fact that all the characters seem to spend their time being huge jerks to each other makes for a show that’s funny, cool, and engaging in turn. And that’s the kind of show I want to be watching this season. Verdict: keeper.

Ushio to Tora

Shorts!: Miss Monochrome 2 & Wakaba*Girl

Miss Monochrome 2: Everyone’s favorite Yui Horie-voiced android idol (well, she’s my favorite Yui Horie-voice android idol) is back for another season! And…everything is effectively the same as it was last season—which is good! The episodes are still short and still good for one good laugh each, Miss Monochrome herself is still endlessly charming and amusing, and Maneo Manager is still totally hapless. Really, though, the highlight is the steady way Miss Monochrome trucks along towards helping a robot achieve her dream with the same level of demure seriousness with which Miss Monochrome embarks on the events of every episode. As far as I’m concerned, it’s pretty much impossible to dislike this show. Find it boring, yes. Dislike it, no. And I don’t find it boring, so we’re all good here. I’m more than happy to give 7 minutes a week to seeing Miss Monochrome try to stand out more and more—until she achieves her dream! Verdict: keeping.

WakabaGirl: From the same mangaka as Kiniro Mosaic, and it shows. Unfortunately, without the charming initial hook of Kinmoza‘s Engrish adventures, WakabaGirl winds up feeling pretty dull. The same brand of “cute high school girls act like the idiots they are” humor is omnipresent, but none of the characters are as instantly charming as any of Kinmoza‘s cast. Even for a short, Wakaba*Girl lacks a good hook or premise—and few of the jokes were actually funny (perhaps due to a lack of investment in the characters at this point), a critical flaw for a show like this. Despite looking rather pretty (anyone else get Yurikuma Arashi vibes from that schoolhouse exterior?), I guess I’ll be looking elsewhere for my cute girls doing cute things fix. Verdict: dropped.

Wakaba*Girl

Bubble Shows: Aoharu x Machinegun Gangsta

Aoharu x Machinegun: Honestly? There is only one reason I gave this show a try: I read that Yui Horie was in the cast as a side character. And what a side character she was! Beyond Hocchan’s lovely voice, though, there actually is a lot to like about Aoharu x Machinegun. Of late, I’ve found myself more fond of bishounen-heavy shows (have I reached critical mass of moegirls??), so the apparent wealth of hot guys this show has in store should be a welcome element. Better yet, protagonist Hotaru (a girl, despite her masculine character design) brings a ton of energy to the screen with her vaguely bloodthirsty enthusiasm for justice and tendency to overreact to basically everything. Putting her alongside a snarky character like Masamune is an excellent choice for generating good character chemistry and the survival games gimmick looks like it could bring some fun with it. Verdict: Unsure, could get bored of it.

Aoharu x Machinegun

Gangsta: Pretty much a masterclass in aiming for an nailing a particular vibe. Of course, whether or not that vibe appeals to you is another matter entirely…As for me, I’m decidedly ambivalent about Gangsta after watching its premiere. In terms of genre and plot, there’s not much here that pushes my buttons. But in terms of presentation (particularly in the visuals and audio), I can’t help but take interest in the way Gangsta goes about executing its world (and the characters within it). In the end, I’m guessing Gangsta will turn out to be too gritty, dark, nasty, and amoral for me to stomach, but for now my aesthetic preferences are really piqued by the way Gangsta uses light, shadow, and sound to shows its ugly world to the audience. There are also a few directorial tricks that have attracted my attention with their ability to make spatial connections between different characters and locations—cool stuff. Verdict: Unsure, going to wait until it shows exactly what kind of story it’s going to be.

Gangsta


Still to Come: Classroom☆Crisis, Game of LaplaceWagnaria!!!CharlotteGatchaman Crowds Insight, Durarara!! x2-2Akagami no Shirayuki-himeChaos Dragon(?), Joukamachi no Dandelion, Aquarion LogosOverlordGakkou GurashiDanchigaiPrison SchoolVenus Project.

37 thoughts on “Summer 2015 Anime: First Impressions (Part 1)

  1. Interestingly, my own first impressions overlap a lot with yours. There are differences. I might like Rokka no Yuusha a little more than you (or not), and I’m not quite as bored by Wakaba Girl (and conversely not as taken with Kinmoza, so the difference isn’t that big, with Kinmoza still being the better show).

    I’m fairly sure Gangsta is a keeper for me, but I do hope I’ll be able to stomache the macho elements better. Gate was better than I thought, which isn’t saying much.

    You’re not watching Non Non Biori, aka the Renge Show?

    I’m not going to talk about shows you’re planning in your next post, but surprisingly my favourite premier of a new show so far was Shinometa…, the show about ecchi terrorism. It’s completely over-the-top. But the concept – guy transfers from infamous school to prim and proper school to be close to the paragon of morality he admires only to end up helping an ecchi terrorist spreading depravity – is actually executed with surprising nuance, so it works simultaneously as a spoof of dystopian fiction and as a satire of zero-tolerance censorship. I actually expected to enjoy this, but it falls a lot less into guilty-pleasure territory than I thought it would.

    Like

    • I do like Rokka a whole heckuva a lot! Putting a show on hold to marathon later is really a mark of great esteem from me!

      And I will be watching Non Non Biyori, but I absolutely refuse to let myself sully the show by forcing myself into any sort of watching schedule. I’ll watch it when I feel like it—that’s the best way to watch it, for sure.

      Gangasta‘s also a little macho for me. Again, I think it somewhat comes back to figuring out what kind of story it wants to tell.

      Interesting notes on Shinometa. I’ll definitely be happy if I hear that it’s fun and successful—just not a show I’m interested in trying out for myself.

      Like

      • Interesting about various watch-categories. I normally watch everything as it airs. Exceptions there are very few, but I admit the exceptions tend to be excellent shows that require a certain mood (such as Mushishi). I can sort of see how Non Non Biori could be a mood dependent show (if that’s what it is).

        What makes a good show to marathon? Suspense? Fluid narrative? Know-it-when-I-see-it?

        Finally – mind if I ask? – what makes Prison School a candidate, but Shinometa not? This may sound like an odd question, but ever since my first look at preview videos, I was instinctively comparing the shows.

        Finally (and it’s really finally now): Symphogear? Best served camp.

        Like

        • Non Non Biyori, for me, was a show I watched before bed for like a week and fell asleep multiple times in the middle of episodes. Just kind of a shockingly relaxing show that left me with really good memories of watching it. And I know making myself watch stuff can compromise the show’s ability to deliver on its best capabilities. NNB is just one of those I’d really hate for that to happen to.

          For marathons, I think it’s shows with lots of cliffhangers and important narrative momentum between episodes (aka, multiple episode arcs or overarching stories).

          And Prison School is on here partially because of the director and partially just because of buzz about it from people I talk with a lot. Chances are good I’ll either hate it or find it entirely gross, but I dunno…I just wanted to give it a try for some reason.

          Like

          • Thanks for your reply. I find watching habits a very interesting topic.

            Prison School is directed by Mizushima? Interesting, but inconclusive. He’s got shows I love, shows I like, shows I’m indifferent about, and shows I think are sort of bad. I’m not aware of any show I downright hate. (I’m not super-active in anime fandom, so I sort of missed that there was a buzz.)

            Like

  2. Ushio to Tora definitely’s a show to watch out for. Haven’t watched last season’s Punchline but MAPPA’s put together some great shows in the past (looking at you, Garo).

    Also, BBB’s inconclusive airing date for its finale saddens me, but one must move on with the times :/

    Like

    • I’m still planning on finishing my BBB cinematography posts, even if I’m so late with them that they’re no longer relevant to anyone except myself.

      And oh, of freaking course, MAPPA’s on Ushio to Tora! I dunno how I didn’t keep that in my head. I’m sure i knew it at one point…

      Like

  3. I’ve decided that I want to re-watch the old U&T OVA again before I start watching the new series. It’s been years since I popped those DVDs in, and I actually want both versions to be fresh in my head at the same time.

    Fortunately it should be the sort of show that’s easy to do a mini-marathon catchup whenever I get to it, and the OVA’s only 10 episodes so it won’t take that long.

    Like

  4. Gangsta’s build-up into a slow-burn, conversation-driven, rhytm with that background music reminded me of the director’s previous work Witch Hunter Robin (an underrated and long forgotten show it seems). That scene where they cut to Nic’s PoV (or PoH, I guess) is my favorite moment so far.

    I like the director and original author on this one. Have a feeling that beneath the grime and edges, the show’s got a big heart.

    Like

  5. No Symphogear, eh? That intro! You missed the most glorious 6 minutes of anime this year. Though if you haven’t seen the previous seasons, I’d advise watching that first.

    I liked Rokka. I liked the meso-American setting, and I even liked the exposition. A nice tale to set up the show, and naming the saints made it feel like it gave a glimpse of history. At first, the hero grated on me, being the standard cocky trickster. But I like the patience he demonstrated in the jail cell.

    Ushio to Tora felt really old-school to me, and I liked that. A bit like Rinne this past season.

    The only other one I watched from your list was Aoharu x Machinegun. It was weird. It’s like Ouran Host Club crossed with Sagebu!. I loved both those shows, so I’m hoping this mix works out.

    Like

    • Yes Symphogear some of the best action OP’s of any anime Like I say elsewhere feels like a James Bond movie ! And I know people hate cliffhangars but Symphogear does it well

      Like

    • I’m not caught up on Symphogear! I watched the first two episodes a few weeks back, but never got a chance to finish it.

      Ushio to Tora is kind of like what I wanted Rinne to be, just with better production values and a tad bit more upbeat pace.

      Like

  6. A pretty much agree with everything here–though one issue I personally had with gangsta was the soundtrack. If seemed super lowkey and calm for what was actually going on. I seem to be the only person that had this issue though, so eh.

    Gate was a drop for me. I actually didn’t find Ushio no Tora appealing at all, but hey, different strokes for different folks. Also, huh, I actually hadn’t considered how big of a narrative dump Rokka had… Though it didn’t really bore me since I was super interested in the setting.

    Like

    • I guess I was so taken by the visuals in Gangsta that I didn’t really think about the music much at all…hmhmhm. I dunno, though, maybe I like the lowkey feel they were going for?

      Rokka‘s setting definitely is interesting! They even made some efforts towards making the narrative dump more interesting visually, but the editing pace I thought they could have gone for never materialized for more than a few cuts.

      Like

  7. Before I get to the main body a couple of thoughts Note sarcasm relieves my anger !

    1 We have a new way to watch shows it’s called Delaycast XD The streaming sites were competing to see how many show pages are missing yey alone the shows being on time !

    Just so sad IMO in this modern Tech age!

    2 AX will have a new name next year LAX because all like to contribute to # 1.

    And please anime is a 24 / 7 media just like TV !

    Now to comment I will just do the shows you mentioned and show what I have watched a rough draft to say the least ! There may be drops I wiil the 3 EP rule for some but I have a lot of winners if they stay the same !

    BTW shows to watch there are a couple of surprises!

    Gate It may not be your type of anime but reading the manga and seeing it in color and in action brought a smile to my face! There will be violence and actuallt the military weapons are quite detailed and accurate! The Okatu is really a great person and the Outbreak Company comparsion comes later . Yes there will be assault but the manga was not that bad and few ! You sould stick around and watch Rory Mercury !

    Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers I think the problem withe first episode it felt rushed ! But I like it ! The action scenes were quite good!

    Ushio to Tora I want to like it and respect the old tyle look but the animation still could be cleaner! This is a 3 EP trial

    Miss Monochrome 2 I do like this show still feeling everything out ! But the album confusion that was so funny! It’s a keeper

    WakabaGirl: I said the same thing it’s Like Hello Kirino / but having a rich girl that had to go to this school might have a certain charm!

    Aoharu x Machinegun I actually llike the reverse trap ! It was better than I thought!

    Gangsta This is where I really disagree with you / This the Kind of an anime that got me to watch anime in the first place / really it’s cyberpunk ! You liked BBB for some of the same reasons and watching the deals go down is intriiguing ! If you are upset withe adult tone that’s how it is but it’s there to show the seedinses of the underworld and not fanservice! BTW the same studio that brought us Mitcho and Hatchin ! So I like the style already !

    I dont want to spoil but there are some surprisee ( new shows in your to watch list! )

    New Show Debuts / BTW I have lots of shows to add

    TOP SHOWS / WORK IN PROGRESS

    Non Non Biyori Repeat Just the best
    Senki Zesshou Symphogear GX / S3 Best Action OPS of all time ( feels like James Bond) Best cliffhangars too
    Gangsta. / See above
    Working!!! 3 / Wagnaria!! 3 Still one of the best comedies going
    Gatchaman Crowds Insight / I just dropped this here for now
    Durarara!!×2 Ten / You’ll like
    Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace A big Pyscho Pass Connection! / Really surprising
    Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri READING MANGA / see above
    Rokka no Yuusha / (Heroes of the Six Flowers) / see above
    Charlotte / not too bad
    Jitsu wa Watashi wa / Actually, I Am / could be interesting
    Aoharu x Kikanju (Aoharu x Machinegun) / see above
    Teeyku 5 / The insanity is back

    SECONDARY SHOWS / WORK IN PROGRESS / Note just a place for now really out of order

    Miss Monochrome 2 Short CR Fri
    A Boring World Where the Concept of ‘Dirty Jokes’ Doesn’t Exist
    Classroom Crisis
    Wakaba Girl Short
    Okusama ga Seito Kaichou! / CR SHORT
    Wakako-zake Sun
    Chaos Dragon: Sekiryuu Sen’eki
    Wooser no Sono Higurashi: Hoshi ni Negai wo / Wooser 3rd cour
    Ushio to Tora/Ushio and Tora CR 26 EPS Summer / Fall Spring 2016

    Ongoing Debuts

    TOP SHOWS / WORK IN PROGRESS / These 4 will be in my top Tier / just need to keep things organized

    Arslan Senki
    Baby Steps (2) CR Sun READING MANGA
    Shokugeki no Souma / Food Wars CR Fri READING MANGA
    World Trigger

    SECONDARY SHOWS / WORK IN PROGRESS

    Ultimate Otaku Teacher
    Ore Monogatari!!
    2nd Sailor Moon Crystal / Bishoujo Senshi Sailor
    Kyoukai no Rinne
    Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu
    Tribe Cool Crew

    Like

  8. My impressions on these shows so far…

    Aoharu x Machinegun; Crappy animation, generic writing, stock characters… this one’s got ’em all. I honest to $DIETY don’t know why I haven’t dropped it, and the episode preview isn’t all that promising. The announced premise looked interesting but the execution… Status: Leaning way out over the precipice.

    Gangsta; Wow… So far, there’s little not to like. An interesting visual aesthetic, nicely done animation, well drawn characters… and they pulled no punches. It’s got me hooked. (I described it to my lady as “Cowboy Bebop, if Spike and Jet were amoral thugs rather than down-on-their-luck white knights”.) Status: Keeper.

    Gate; It could be good, it could be bad… I don’t have the triggers you do, I’m more worried about it going ‘generic’, especially as the MC isn’t all that interesting. There’s just so many ways for such a show to go bad, especially with two cour to fill. Status: Keeper, with reservations.

    Miss Monochrome 2; Yay! I laughed about her first album all weekend. Status: I’m breaking out a set of fresh AA’s!

    Wakaba Girl; CGDCT at it’s very… well, I don’t know yet. It’s certainly off to a bit of a shaky start, but it’s not obviously bad, so we’ll have to see. (For me, shorts generally get a bit more latitude in this department.) Status: Meh.

    And since you mentioned it but it’s not on your “still to come” list… (Like last season, I’ll match you show for show, then round up the extras in the final part.)

    Non Non Byori Repeat; Renge practicing going to school because she can’t wait? That’s been me ever since the announcement it would air this season. Status: Nyanpasu!!

    In other news;

    Wagnaria!! Has been on my radar for some time, so we started working out way through it in anticipation of season 3… And so far (ep 10), it’s pretty meh. I’m pretty sure that’s down to pacing though… what works as a four panel or a weekly series isn’t necessarily marathonable.

    And if you haven’t seen it yet;

    Like

    • Bummer you aren’t like Wagnaria. I dunno what your employment history is like, but for me the goofy working culture (as unrealistic as it is) is part of the charm.

      And yeah, NNB‘s a special case. Still waiting for the day its Amazon price drops enough that I can grab it and AKB0048 at the same time…

      And oh geez, Gate is two cours? Of course it is. Urghhh

      Like

  9. Great writeup as always, Bless.

    Gangsta was the standout for me this week. What on the surface looks like pretty standard fare promises, at least after the first episode, to be something different. I especially like that the most badass character is deaf. Whether it’s in anime or any other medium, we don’t get enough cool characters like that. I’m excited to see what it bring, though like you I hope it doesn’t become too nihilistic.

    Like

    • Thank you, thank you!

      I think Gangsta is probably my standout from this group as well. Part of it is that it’s just so different from everything else, part of it is that the execution is pretty superb. Hopefully it stays palatable for me!

      Like

  10. I know I missed something. I didn’t check that if your pre-season/early-season impression post is up, and now I’m late to the party.

    Gangsta seems like something that could be special. I really like show with contrasts (especially sharp ones), whether visual or content wise.

    Like

    • Ah, it’s okay! I’m late to the party with the post anyways!

      Jury’s still out on Gangsta for me, but then again I’m still trying to get my head above water with all these shows. ^_^”

      Like

  11. The manga of gate is tagged as “ecchi” and “smut” in some manga reading sites, so there is the possibility that the anime ends up like that. Hopefully not.

    Braves of the Six Flowers: I watched the first episode, the story looks interesting., but I didn’t liked some of the outfits for the girls. These are fanservicey.

    Ushio to Tora: That one looks like a 90’s series but with contemporary coloring techniques, etc. Thematicaly, another one with the “fighting evil with evil” plot.

    Miss Monochrome 2: I watched the first season back in 2013, it was a nice show. For the moment I don’t remember if it had something objectionable, besides a minor reincarnation plot.

    WakabaGirl: I like that the protagonist wears more modest skirts compared to the mini-skirts of her new friends. If it avoids the shoujo-ai of Kirino Mosaic, it could work as a sustitute. I didn’t watched Yuri Kuma (because the yuri and sexualized content) so I don’t know if the school looks like something from that show. I think it looks “pastel” and like something from a toy box for girls. It looks nice. The quality of the show was surprisingly good for a short series.

    Aoharu x Machinegun: Another show with an androginous or cross-dresser protagonist? some authors sure like that type of designs, it seems.

    Gangsta: I’ve read is rather violent and the first episode includes a prostitution scene. Is marked as “mature” in some manga sites, so I guess it features nudity too. With these shows, I think another problem is that often end up glamorizing evil. The character designs of the two male protagonist don’t look “bishonen”, so this show wouldn’t be presenting these as very cool or attractive, but the other problems remain.

    Like

      • Is not only the looks, is how these designs are used too. And not only fans, I mean, how authors use these characters for setting up certain situations. Also, various character designs are not a direct representation of people, these are aesthetic choices, and some times, with more purpose than just looking like that.

        In anime, these are noticeable, because the already androginous male character designs present in many series, as a product of popular conventions of many manga styles. Some series manage to have more variety, but sometimes the results end up looking as if different artists made the designs for each “age group”, for example, elder people in moé shows, or some characters with small eyes and more realistic proportions (in comparation to the younger characters). Certainly is a somewhat complex balance to attain in design.

        Like

  12. Aparently, Gate doesn’t has fanservice for the moment (although the preview for the third episode seems to show the elf girl without her dress [only was shown from the upper part of the bust up, so she could have changed to a strapless dress too]). I watched two episodes.

    The quality is good, and the cgi is mostly well done, it doesn’t stand out too much compared to backgrounds and characters.

    There are some unexplained elements, like the barbarism of the people from the other world. First thing they do after crossing the gate is going into a rampage? I hope this doesn’t ends as a pseudo-moralizing plot of contemporary people bringing “modernity” to a “backwards” society. Some of hese tend to have some hubris about contemporary society being supossedly the “best”.

    The otaku character displays some serious lack of priorities too, worrying about the exposition in the middle of the confrontation and destruction going on around him, well, that helps to establish what kind of character he is. Connected with the aforementioned elements, it has the posibility of him bringing his hobbies to the other world, and that could go bad easily, given the habits of some fans.

    More than a just generic fantasy setting, the other world looks like a mix of various stages of history. The Empire having elements of the Roman Empire and the Italian Reinassance, (the style of their army, the senate and robes, the architcture, etc) and the other kingdoms featuring elements from barbarian tribes, Medieval societies, and fantasy elements.

    The story has the possibility of being a generic series, or an interesting one.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s