Hi, hi, sorry I’m late! Let me finish this piece of toast and we’ll get started!
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)
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 Gate, Rokka 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.
Ushio to Tora: Unlike Rokka, Ushio 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.
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.
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.
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.
Still to Come: Classroom☆Crisis, Game of Laplace, Wagnaria!!!, Charlotte, Gatchaman Crowds Insight, Durarara!! x2-2, Akagami no Shirayuki-hime, Chaos Dragon(?), Joukamachi no Dandelion, Aquarion Logos, Overlord, Gakkou Gurashi, Danchigai, Prison School, Venus Project.