First Impressions: Summer 2016 Anime (Part 1)

So, it’s that time of the year again, that time of the year that comes around four times a year, that time of year when a bunch of new anime start all at once and it’s a mad scramble to try and watch all the things I at least want to try. And with this season’s premieres being so spread out over a long period of time, halfway through premiere week I’ll have to take a break, but that’s neither here nor there. Let’s hit it!

Love Live! Sunshine

The Best Premiere so Far: orange

First things first: I adore this manga. It’s one of my all-time favorites, and with the news of a live action movie a while back, I’d all but given up hope for it getting an anime adaptation. But here we are, and with a director who’s more than just a placeholder – Hiroshi Hamasaki – at the helm. I’m exceedingly grateful the stars aligned for this to happen. orange truly is a radiant story, and although I’ve only written about the manga in part, don’t let that fool into thinking I hold this tale in anything less but the highest regard.

So. How was the first episode of the adaptation? In a word: very, very good. I’m not sure if Hiroshi Hamasaki is the “best” match for this source material, but he definitely has a distinctive vision that he’s bringing to orange, keeping it very far away indeed from looking like a boilerplate shoujo adaptation. orange never did have the greatest art, but Hamasaki and his team have done a wonderful job of making Naho’s world look and feel like a real place. And, most importantly, the adaptation nailed the camaraderie between the main sextet instantly. From the moment the group got together, even with Kakeru being an outsider, it all just seemed right. For me, this was the most critical element of the adaptation, and the anime nailed it. Given what I know of the source material—which isn’t exceedingly long, by the way—I’m now completely confident orange will not only be a good adaptation of a great manga, but also a great anime on its own terms. I’m very excited. Verdict: absolutely, without a doubt. My top recommendation of the season so far.

Things that are Cute (and on the Bubble)

Momokuri

The description of Momokuri made it sound like it was going to be a lot more uncomfortable than it ended up actually being. Kurihara, despite being a bit of a stalker, manages to come off relatively charming in her devotion to Momo. Now, whether or not that’s a good thing is another question, but within the particular space of this anime I don’t have a problem with it. Although Momokuri makes light of her obsessiveness, Kurihara’s down-to-earth friend Norika provide enough of a counterbalance to avoid the show entirely approving of Kurihara’s behavior. And so, with that said, Momokuri is super cute! There’s tons of blushy-blushy going on between the two leads, so if you like this kind of saccharine fluff (I do), Momokuri‘s got it in spades. There’s a moment early in the first half of the episode where Momo and Kurihara catch each other looking at the other and then smile, albeit somewhat awkwardly, at each other. That’s gold. Verdict: we’ll see how things go!

The Morose Mononokean

It was a thoroughly pleasant premiere. I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for these light sort of slice-of-lifey shows that engage Japan’s mythology (Gingitsune comes to mind immediately), and The Morose Mononokean is definitely a show that falls into category. This premiere, although somewhat visually dull, was wound up being engaging from start to finish – not least because I enjoyed Yuki Kaji’s wailing and the constant smug look the yokai attached to him had on its face. While it’s definitely on the lower end of the premieres I’ve seen  due to the fact that it doesn’t have a ton of real substance to it (and I don’t really anticipate that’ll change), the cast seems solid so far and I’m hoping that flipping back and forth between worlds and engaging the unique qualities of the yokai they’ll face each episode will make it worth the time. Verdict: not automatically in, but close.

The Morose Mononokean

Idol Anime, Good and Bad

Good: Love Live! Sunshine

It feels like forever ago that I first came into contact with Love Live!, back when I picked up the second season in the middle of Spring 2014 to write a review about a show no one else seemed interested in covering for the Crunchyroll Newsletter. Little did I know what I was getting into, and even though I finished the show weekly after mostly enjoying it, I still didn’t know at that time what a juggernaut of a franchise I’d jumped into. Well, here we are, over two years later, and the successor to Love Live!‘s second season is here. I confess I have somewhat mixed feelings at all, but the final verdict here is simply that Sunshine is, without a doubt, Love Live! The voice actresses all sound like the newbies they are, the CG still isn’t that great, but the music and the overall mood carried the first episode through in a way that only a true successor to the original Love Live! could. And that’s something that just kind of defies analysis. It was a raucous, super speedy first episode, but the spirit of the original surely lives—and I’m glad. Verdict: need I even say it?

Love Live! Sunshine

Bad: B-Project

I suppose there can only be so many Starmyus, and B-Project is definitely not one of them. I make it a point each season to try out at least one of the inevitable guyidol anime that air, always hoping that I’ll find one that has the spark, but I’ve yet to find one that really did it for me (although the aforementioned Starmyu came very close, enough so that I may go back to it someday). B-Project joins the rejects, and not solely because, as I’ve found with many shows like this, it felt quite sterile and lethargic throughout. There’s no sense of movement or purpose – and even as a vehicle simply for strutting out the bishounen it falls flat. But the real issue for me was the lack of any kind of structure to this episode’s narrative. Even dismissing the introductions at the beginning of the episode, the emotional logic of the recording session was spacey as heck and the resolution was even more nonsensical than I’d expected. Let’s hope Tsukiuta is better. Verdict: dropped.

B-Project

Soccer is Good: DAYS

Have I ever told you guys that soccer is my favorite sport? Well, it is, but soccer (due to the amount of running involved) is probably among the sports you’d least want to make an anime about because holy crap that’s a lot of animation you’re going to be needing to do. And so, I find myself pleasantly surprised that A) DAYS exists as an anime, and B) that it’s good! The show feels decidedly offbeat to me, which is a bit surprising for a story that seems to want to follow the normal shounen template, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just not quite as hot-blooded as I was thinking it would be, possibly due to the fact that protagonist Tsukamoto is about the most mild-mannered dude you could find without having him be a total doormat. There are some other interesting pieces in play – a childhood friend who doesn’t seem like she’ll be a love interest, a female manager whose design looks like she came out of an entirely different show, and the question of how many episodes the show will get. Whatever happens, I’m on board, though. It’s soccer, the best sport, after all! Verdict: a keeper.

Days


Still to Watch: Mob Psycho 100Sweetness and Lighting, D. Gray ManTaboo TattooShow by Rock!! Short!!New Game!BatteryKonobitAmanchu!91 Days.

18 thoughts on “First Impressions: Summer 2016 Anime (Part 1)

  1. I was impressed by Days as well, enough to track the source manga down and find out they managed to condense the first four-five chapters into one episode, removing all the non-football cruft making for a stronger, more focused opening. It’s great to see that both the established superstar and the promising newcomer with lots of motivation are nice guys, the futsbal sequence was done well and I have hit the goalpost like that in real life and winced in sympathy.

    I don’t understand The Morose Mononokean, or rather, its title. Why translate only part of it? What is a mononokean when it’s at home? Decently done though, with a Natsume’s Book of Friends meets Rin-ne sort of vibe.

    Orange was good once I got used to the art style and like you, I enjoyed seeing a close knit group of friends actually acting like such.

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    • I haven’t seen Natsume myself, but the Rinne comparision makes sense to me.

      And yesss, one of orange‘s greatest strengths is that the way it portrays the dynamic of the main friend group. So happy they got it right, and made it feel natural in a way few anime can.

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  2. Orange was quite good. Rewrite was really confusing, but in a potentially good way. The Morose Mononokean looked decent.

    Did you see ReLife? I’m not sure what to think of this style where you drop the entire season at once.

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    • I’ve heard very mixed reviews about Rewrite, so I’m holding off on it until more of a consensus develops around it.

      And no, I haven’t seen ReLife. I’ve heard it was a pretty good premiere, the premise doesn’t interest me much. This “go back and do it again thing” isn’t one of my pet story types (and having read orange, I’d argue it’s fundamentally not that, so as to defend myself from cries of hypocrisy), and it just looks kind of bland. So no dice – haven’t heard much enthusiastic chatter, so I’m keeping my plate clear for stuff that looks like it’ll have a bit more flavor.

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      • @Re:Life: It’s not so much a “go-back-and-do-it-again”, as it is a “re-connect with your inner child because work-life has left you cynical and withdrawn”. It’s visually uninspiring, but everything else is good. I’d say it’s worth a shot.

        @Rewrite: Reminded me of a more absurd and occasionally bloodier Little Busters. It’s like someone inserted a bit of spunk into key anime. It’s interesting and can go either way.

        (Btw, I agree: Orange is very, very good. It’s one of those shows that looks better animated than in screenshots, I think.)

        I’m trying to remember if Momokuri is identical to the ONA I saw a while back, or if it’s just really similar.

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        • The Rewrite VN is top tier, especially for those interested in deeper spiritual themes. It’s entirely unadaptable, which means the anime is going to be… interesting. I always recommend people read the VN first, but seeing as it is longer than the Bible (if I remember correctly) I regretfully acknowledge that that just won’t happen 😦

          It will probably be okay at least.

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      • ReLIFE is actually a rather subversive sort of show, as though it has that wishfulfillment/go back to high school and do it right surface story, underneath it there’s an indictment of modern Japanese society which apparantly finds it easier to invent a pill to de-age people ground up by the system to give them a second chance in high school than it finds it to change the system so they’re not ground up in the first place. The first episode doesn’t really this at all, but gives you the impression the surface story is all that matters, but hints are dropped quickly that everything is not as it seems and once the full story comes out you look at the NEET protagonistand what put him there in an entirely different light.

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        • I just finished watching rewrite and really loved it. As Dawnstorm said, the art and animation are pretty average, but everything else was pretty great.

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  3. With Spring Overlapping into Summer ( Those Final Episodes came First ) mostly because of the Earthquake I am just starting Summer ( may be close to 50 EPS /nt a lot of shorts either )

    I am even with FUNI / bur havent started CrunchyRoll / Also all ongoing animes take precedent

    That being said it is way too much I have to sample to make a soild impression

    Arslan 2 is very good / Tales of Zestria surprised me and The Disaster of Psi Kusuo is so funny ! **

    Also confusion ** ( I am not sure of this new trend in anime) usuall it’s a chibi after an anime starts

    RE:LIFE being dumped all at once

    The Disaster of Psi Kusuo Saiki

    Number of Episodes: 24
    Number of Specials: 85

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  4. Boy idol shows just may not be for you. It’s definitely something for a specific type of audience. Honestly, I thought the first episode of B-Project was pretty good. It engaged me a lot more than the first episode of STARMYU did, and I loved STARMYU (it just didn’t really get good unlike like episode 4). A lot of people are panning the first episode and I’m honestly wondering what more they expected out of it. It’s not the type of show that starts off with a bang. I liked the music, what more can I reasonably ask for?

    Anyway, I liked Orange, I guess. It felt kinda… off to me somehow. The character designs and animation were… a little uncanny. I’m getting the feeling that I’m going to prefer this one as a manga rather than an anime.

    Those are the only 2 I’ve tried of the ones you tried so far. I also watched the first 2 episodes of ReLife and I’m really enjoying it. My husband actually read the manga on CR and told me I should read it a while back, which I didn’t. But at least we can watch it together now. It’s got some great humor and lively characters.

    Other shows on my list I’ll DEFINITELY be watching: Shokugeki no Souma, D. Gray-man Hallow, Arslan Senki, and continuing Re:Zero, Rinne.

    Other shows I’m going to try out: The Morose Mononokean (another one my husband read the manga of on CR and recommends), Rewrite, Sweetness and Lightning, Taboo Tattoo, 91 Days, Time Travel Girl, New Game, Planetarian, Servamp, Tales of Zestiria, Mob Psycho 100, Alderamin on the Sky, Tsukiuta.

    Shows I might try if I’m bored: First Love Monster, The Highschool Life of a Fudanshi, Cheer Boys, Hitori no Shita.

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  5. My thought’s…

    Orange Nailed it pretty good, especially (as you point out) the group dynamics. I’m a little concerned about the pacing though. There’s a lot of story to pack into the remaining episodes.

    Momokuri Like you, I’m waiting to see where this goes. The whole stalker-in-larval-form bit could get very old very quickly. On the other side of the equation, the whole “ohgoshwow I have a girlfriend” shtick could get pretty old too… But I do like how they swap between the main characters point of view.

    Love Live! Sunshine!! Frankly, I was not impressed with the premier episode. On top of basically being a rewrite of the first episode of the original… “problems bringing the school club together” (right down to the opposition of Student Council President) has been done to death. Many of the characters felt right out of the Stock Character Handbook. Worst of all was how the insert song was just airdropped into the episode and featured characters not even in the band yet. Folks, you may be the latest incarnation of a wildly popular franchise, but you still can’t get away with just phoning it in.

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  6. Orange is definitely on my must-watch list, and I’m thoroughly annoyed that Funi took LL Sunshine because now I’m stuck between fansubbing it or watching it a week late, neither of which really appeals to me. Out of this batch you reviewed, the only one I’ve actually seen so far is Mononokean, which ironically wasn’t on my list at all, but my anime club wanted to watch it at today’s meeting. And I enjoyed it too (and so did they), it was a solid premiere with a good blend of humor and sentimentality. I don’t think I’m going to watch it weekly because my schedule’s already too full, but if people like it then I might go back to it after the season, or if I find myself dropping a lot more shows than I expect to.

    Have also watched the premieres of Sweetness & Lightning and Food Wars 2. Haven’t gotten to Rewrite yet either, and Amanchu’s still to come.

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      • Thanks, but I really don’t enjoy reading manga digitally. The big problem I have is that in most cases (and CR is no exception) the electronic pages just aren’t scanned to a size that I like. If they make it small enough to fit the whole page on the screen (or two pages like CR does) then you lose all the detail in the artwork, and if they make it full-sized or if I zoom it in to the size that I’m comfortable looking at, then I’m having to scroll in four directions to see everything, which is a big pain. The only site I’ve ever used where I like their digital setup is webtoons.com, which is a manhwa site. I just started reading Girls of the Wild’s there not too long ago, and they have it set up so that all the panels are stacked vertically and sized perfectly for a browser (not too big or too small), so all you have to do to read it is just keep scrolling down. It’s very easy and convenient.

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  7. While people have been praising [i]Orange[/i] a lot here, I have to say that watching the first episode actually made me feel very real disgust.

    There is no problem with writing or art style itself, but the emotional sense I got from the premise was deeply unattractive. I found the way how regret was discussed in the episode very deeply emotionally unhealthy, and so it feels like something I rather want to keep out of.

    That said, I have no idea would my misgivings be addressed over time, but if the show is going to the direction I think it is going, it will stay off my watch list.

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