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!
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)
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.
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?
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.
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.
Still to Watch: Mob Psycho 100, Sweetness and Lighting, D. Gray Man, Taboo Tattoo, Show by Rock!! Short!!, New Game!, Battery, Konobit, Amanchu!, 91 Days.