First Impressions: Summer 2016 Anime (Part 2)

We’re into the second third of the season’s premieres and I think I’m starting to see my weekly schedule slowly putting itself together out there in the distance. Nothing’s set in stone yet, but I’m getting the feeling that some shows are going to hold up over the long run and others aren’t. The more I watch, the more I have perspective on the stuff I’ve already seen, and the more I feel ready for the season to actually start.

New Game 1-34

{Summer 2016 First Impressions: Part 1}

Moe is Good, I’ll Hear No Objections

Sweetness and Lightning

Whew, I survived. I think 12 minutes 30 seconds into the first episode might be a record time for any anime getting me to cry, but Sweetness and Lightning did it – and did so subtly that I was caught almost entirely unaware. And, for me, that’s really emblematic of what made this premiere special. Yes, Tsumugi is cute. Yes, Kouhei is a good dad. Yes, even the Saori Hayami-voiced Kotori turned out to be really charming. But it was the quiet hints at underlying sadness, sadness that only rarely gets shown externally to the world yet still informs perception that gave this show the soft edge it needed to be more than just 25 minutes of a cute anime child bouncing around. That undercurrent of build up, the innocent and carefree speech of Tsumugi – it all lead into a nondescript shot of the night sky, with Kohei expressing just one small wish: “I want my daughter to have a good meal.” That’s it! That’s love. Verdict: how could I not love it?

NEW GAME!

Everyone likes cute anime girls! Everyone likes video games! And everyone should like Dogakobo, so what’s not to like about NEW GAME!? Well, there is an answer to that (dumb fanservicey stuff), but perhaps the better question is: what is there to like in NEW GAME!? And it turns out, there’s a lot! Super cute and polished character designs, bouncy animation, generally pleasant characters who actually already are starting to feel like a bit more than their basic archetypes somehow, and a workplace setting that’s already allowed for some mildly realistic office moments (like Aoba having to go to the bathroom right after she sits down at her desk to start working). With Sweetness and Lightning holding up the more emotionally grounded moe spectrum of the season, NEW GAME! seems to be positioned to take up a more familiar, lighthearted position. Verdict: it’s cute, it’s good.

Who Remembers D. Gray Man?

My overriding impressions after watch D. Gray Man Hallow‘s premiere is were two-fold. First, nostalgia’s a powerful force. It’s probably been at least three years since I marathoned the initial adaptation of Katsura Hoshino’s manga (starting on Hulu and then moving to one of those super shady streaming sites with mirrors and such), but I was still super duper glad to revisit these characters. Second, it’s almost impossible to remember all (any?) of the plot/emotional context of a 100+ episode show when you’ve been away from it for this long. Things were happening this episode, and while I have vague recollections of the events that lead us to this place, there were clearly many things I didn’t remember at all. I suppose that the characters still stand out so clearly to me, though, is a powerful statement of how important characters are to stories. But as for the show? Maybe I need to do some rewatching… Verdict: completely unsure what to do with this.

D. Gray Man Hallow

Bishounen Anime: Good and What?

Scar-red Rider XechS

Okay, so hear me out. This was fun. After starting off with a legitimately solid tone-setting scene where an emo bishounen plays his guitar and bird flies away trilling, XechS plunges into weird scene after weird scene, none of them stitched together particularly well, before ending with an incomprehensible deus ex machina and a shot of the now-five Riders walking away from an explosion. Throw in some truly strangely constructed character interactions, a female lead who has way more spunk than your normal reverse harem lead, and a feeling of weird non-commitment to the tropes it’s using, and XechS just ends up being downright strange—even as the minutes genuinely flew by. So, yeah, I’m not really sure what to make of Sacred Rider XechS. I’m not sure successive episodes of this quality will keep me watching long-term, but for now I’m oddly intrigued. Verdict: dunno.

Tsukiuta The Animation

This is the good one, by the way. And not just out of this sub-group, but out of all the big bishounen cast anime that I’ve watched this season. This isn’t to say that it was a barn-burner of a premiere, but it was quietly solid in a genre where generic and dull is the sadly low bar to surpass. The unique structure of the episode was the first thing that caught my attention in this premiere (focusing more on the brother of the idol otaku girl than on the idols themselves), but that same construct also allowed Tsukiuta to do what so few of these shows do: allow the characters to demonstrate their identities through action and casual interactions with each other rather than through super-cliched set-ups. That’s not to say this episode was super innovative, but there was a quiet groundedness to it that few shows like this have. While the whole thing could grind dull if it dives into generic single-character episodes, this refreshing premise gives me hope there’s a bit more here. Verdict: not totally sold yet, but earns a second episode, I think.

16 Minutes to Drop: Taboo Tattoo

Okay, I’ll be honest: although I had a little bit of hope, I was about 90% sure that Taboo Tattoo was going to be bad. But I was expecting it to be bad in an “this makes me angry because of its treatment of its female characters” kind of way or a “this has a reprehensible worldview” kind of way, if anything, not the completely uninspiring, vapid thing we got. From absolutely leaden “comedy” elements (I was aghast that these were included, even more so that they were so poorly done) to the positively droll characterization of the the prominent characters, Taboo Tattoo doesn’t even have the database charm other shows of its ilk have. It just feels tired, bored of itself, and purposeless. Even the fight sakuga, despite moving fast, wasn’t all that impressive. Verdict: save your time, this show is really poor. Dropped.

Taboo Tattoo


Still to Watch: Mob Psycho 100BatteryKonobitAmanchu!91 Days.

11 thoughts on “First Impressions: Summer 2016 Anime (Part 2)

  1. I made the same mistake, so I understand: it’s not “Sacred Rider XechS”, but “Scared Rider XechS”. And that doesn’t seem to be the intention either. I think what they were going for is “Scar-red Rider XechS”. I’m as confused about the show as I am about the title. And the lead only knows one song on the guitar?

    Also, if you find the time, check out Cheer Danshi. The male-cheerleader anime turns out to have a surprisingly good first episode, with an interesting character set-up.

    I suppose it’s pointless to even try the D-Grey Man show if you’ve never watched the original? I thought it might be a reboot, so I tried the first episode, but the first five minutes looked like a refresher rather than an introduction so I quit right there.

    Also, I found out New Game‘s by the same director as Mikakunin de Shinkokei and GJ Bu (and Plastic Memories). That’s a good sign for the future of the show. Almost everyone of his shows grew better the longer you watched it (not PM, but well…).

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    • I’ll second the Cheer Danshi recommendation. I’d consider that a legit sports drama (based on a novel that’s in turn based on a true story, apparently), and in that regard I like its premiere more than Days’. That’s probably have something to do with the fact that I’ve seen a bunch of football series that were more immediately grabbing than Days, while male cheerleading is a novel concept, to say the least. Still, I do think CB has richer and more interesting characterization so far.

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  2. The only one I’m watching here is Sweetness and Lightning, which I was absolutely bowled over by. They nailed the atmosphere perfectly, and the voice acting is spot on.

    My only objection is they didn’t make Kotori relationships with Inuzuka-sensei entirely clear, she’s not just a student at his school – he’s her math and homeroom teacher. (Remainder redacted because spoilers.)

    If anyone is interested, the manga is available on Crunchyroll.

    Still to come (for me): This Art Club Has a Problem!, Planetarian, Handa-kun (the Barakamon prequel), and Time Travel Girl. There’s a couple more (notably Battery ) which have not had streams announced yet as well.

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    • I forgot that New Game was also on my “to check out” list… It isn’t bad per se, but it is pretty thin. If it keeps up the habit of running jokes into the ground, it won’t last long on my watch list.

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  3. Seconding Derek, Sweetness & Lightning was phenomenal. I spent most of that episode (except for the somber parts) with a big goofy smile stretched across my face. SO enjoyable.

    BTW, S&L’s animation studio, Shin-Ei, is the same studio that animates Kaitou Joker, which I’ve been watching for the past two years of course, and I noticed some style similarities right away. Joker’s drawings seem to use slightly thicker pen lines than S&L, but Tsumugi could totally pass for being Hachi’s sister.

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  4. As a complete newcomer, D. Gray Man was both incomprehensible because I missed the needed background to understand where it was coming from and actually quite a good setup/re-introduction episode had I had that background.

    Tsukiuta I dropped five minutes or so in, it just annoyed the heck out of me.

    Taboo Tattoo I actually found decent, nothing spectacular but not as bland as you found it either.

    Scared Rider XechS was too incoherent and therefore annoying to bother further with. I actually ranked it below the borderline porn Hybrid×Heart Magias Academy Ataraxia as the latter managed to at least stick to the established first episode formula for a “single boy at magic school” series.

    The two genuinely enjoyable series this time were New Game, which perfectly captured that feeling of starting a new job to me and of course Amaama To Inazuma, which I’d already read the manga of. I think it got that particular stage of grief just right, where things on the surface have returned to normal but it’s clear you’re still hurting below it. It’s not just a lack of time and skill that keeps Kouhei from cooking.

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  5. I only watched Thursdays ( week 2 ) FUNI shows / So I have all of weeknd 2 to get through ! I never understand why Fans Bloggers never mention OnGoing animes They can easily be Top shows The emphasis on just new shows is a bad practice IMO

    First I have broken my 3 episode rule / not going to wade through 2 or 3 weeks of muck ! The cutting culling looks worst than Akame Ga Kill Very over hyphed Summer season. Take the Yen / $$ and make decent anime across the board.

    Except for a couple of new Shows / The Top Shows are returning or some ongoing Anime Like Marcroos Delta ( Yes The Dark side )** the season is meh! 30 years of watching anime and just seems we peaked last year in qualitly So I can kinda say that vwith some sense of a historcal standpoint. And remember I found a lot of good in Winter Spring shows that were dissed as poor., Well now we got a crap season IMO

    **Again the US restriction is just getting way old. Yea Harmony messed things up but come on ! Oh the workings of the Japanese Anime industry

    So I really like Tabbo Tattoo / pretty much panel for Panel / Nobody gets the humor / the girls were greatlooking in the manga ( Yes Fanservice is good and needed sometimes ) A lot of great Martial Art Movies have humor in them and this is like that ! To each their own

    Besides Tabbo Tattoo / anime manga I have read Food Wars and New Game Personally I wish I could read more and get better grasps on of adapted animes .

    I will just post a few shows I really like as I have a lot to go through this weekend .

    A very bitter longtime anime fan!

    I am off the wall with this but The Disaster of Psi Kusuo Saiki Specials / Upcoming Episodes is Just Brilliant This may be one of the best satire / comedy / homage animes ever. You need anime you just sit back and enjoy the ride !

    OMG Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet / Get ready you wiil need to be!

    FOOD WARS 2
    The Disaster of Psi Kusuo Saiki Special 1-4
    The Heroic Legend of Arslan 2 (Dust Storm Dance)
    Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet
    Sweetness and Lightning
    Taboo-Tattoo
    Orange

    Ongoing Anime

    Rinne 2 / Every week I an ROFL / the guest VA”s this season is worth the watch / Oh the Shingami tools remind me of The Acme company in ( Road Ruumer cartoon s ) Overlooked and Underated ( your fellow blogger Enzo thinks the same )

    Macross Delta / Valkyrie vs. Valkyrie

    Some others of note / Again I have a few new shows to watch yet / I have adapted the Thursday to Wednesday anime week / it works for me So baely touched Week 2 yet

    D.Gray-man Hallow
    Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 3rei!!
    ReLIFE EP 1 ( doing an EP each week )
    Tales of Zestiria the X
    Love Live! Sunshine!!
    Cheer Boys
    New Game!

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    • If you like martial arts movies then you should check out Thunderbolt Fantasy (Crunchyroll has it). It’s a new series from Gen Urobuchi that uses puppets, and it really captures the classic look and feel of a Chinese or Hong Kong martial arts movie. The puppets look fantastic, too. It might not be “anime” in the traditional sense (and MAL refuses to list it), but whatever, as someone who likes wuxia I thought the first episode was good.

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  6. Sweetness and Lightning was sweet, and it had that underlying not-sweet element which makes the better SOL shows good. In this case, grief.

    Taboo Tattoo was middle-of-the-road. But one thing I like was that the blue-haired girl wore compression shorts under her skirt. Perhaps I’m just jaded, but if a show deliberately passes up the opportunity for a panty shot, I’ll give it a few more episodes.

    Scar-red Rider Xechs was just weird. I’ll give it another episode to see if it stays weird, or becomes entirely dumb.

    As for New Game, it feels like a show that I should like. I’ve like all of DagoKoba’s previous shows. But somehow I can’t watch more than a minute before turning it off. I’m not really sure why, either.

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