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Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Season Anime Worth Watching:

Even though this is a bad season for anime lovers, there's still plenty left to admire. There isn't a single show worth watching in America, but in Japan, all of these shows are worth a shot:

Ikoku Meiro: The story of a cute Japanese girl named Yune living overseas in 1800's Paris. Everything is drawn gorgeously, the people are nice, and they have a lot of fun with the culture shock issues.

Yuru Yuri: The story of 4 cute girls, middle school friends, who make each other's lives full of laughter and fun every day. You really can't go wrong with a formula like this.

Morita-san: Another group of 4 friends full of laughter and fun every day, but this time the main character barely ever talks, which creates lots of great situations.

Nichijou: The crown jewel of current comedies, done by the masterful people over at Kyoto Animation, is better than ever now that Nano is going to school and has met the rest of the cast. Whether its commentary on things that really don't make sense, and are thus quite funny to point out, or just characters acting humorously but quite understandably themselves, Nichijou will continuously surprise and delight. Plus all the characters are basically likable people so it's the complete opposite of Seinfeld, which also made fun of strange everyday things. By the time this series is over it will belong in the top 100 anime rankings. There's a reason I compared it to Lucky Star and Azumanga Daioh, who are already ranked.

Steins;Gate: At first I didn't like this series much, but the plot has really become thicker around the halfway point, and now every episode is a cliffhanger. I have no idea where this series is going, or whether there will even be a happy ending, but there's always hope for a sci fi thriller based on time travel. If something goes wrong, they can just go back and fix it! Maybe!

Usagi Drop: A great original idea about a single male adopting an unwanted child and raising it himself. The difficulties and the rewards are both beyond his imagination. I hear this story takes a right angle turn and becomes tragic/awful at some point, but so far it's been splendid and unforgettable.

Idolmaster: Like it or not, the girls in this series will grow on you. They all seem so nice, pretty, friendly and hardworking. And the opening where they all dance together in matching costumes is amazing! This series is a lot better than its original premise would lead you to believe, a producer trying to manage the careers of 13 different wannabe idols simultaneously. I hope it keeps up this pace because I was really pleasantly surprised.

Baka to Test 2nd: I'm disappointed in this second season. It seems to have dropped all semblance of a plot, or a moral theme, and just resorted to jokes centered around sex and violence. However, Baka to Test had a great first season, so surely it will start to shine again any day now(?)

Ro-Kyu-Bu: If only this series would drop the sexual aspects and concentrate on the basketball! They're elementary schoolers for christ's sake. This is why anime gets such a bad reputation abroad. Nevertheless, the drama centered around the basketball club is really good.

Hana-Saku Iroha: This story of life as a hotel worker for the high schooler Ohana, forced to live with her grandmother because her mother is too irresponsible, is amazing. It's been amazing from the very beginning and it continues to be amazing every episode. It has some very soap opera like qualities, as the story revolves around various unresolved personality conflicts between all the main characters, but it also has the ups and downs of working life, dating life, school life, and life in general. All of this is supported by P.A. Works, the studio behind Angel Beats, which has really outdone itself this time by creating movie-like detailed drawings and animations for this mere TV show. Production quality is out the roof. This show is a must-see.

Nurarihyon 2nd: Nurarihyon was decent in its first season. Nura was a 'reluctant hero' that really got on my nerves, but he'd accepted his role as a warrior by the end of that season. Now we dive into the second season with his character correctly adjusted to begin with. Naturally, the story is much better. Also, the villains this time around are a perfect pick, it's a 3-sided war right out of the Romance of Three Kingdoms. Two groups of rival Yokai, one anti-human and one pro-human, and a group of human demon hunters who hate them both indiscriminately. What an intriguing situation! If you fight the demon hunters you'll only be hurting generally good people and making the Kyoto demons' lives easier, but the demon hunters won't stop attacking you, so what choice do you have? That's a puzzle I hope Nura solves over the course of the season.

Plus the Usual Suspects: Anyone who knows anything about anime knows that Naruto, One Piece, Pretty Cure, Bleach, and Fairy Tail are always running and always good. Bleach is on filler at the moment so it can safely be ignored for now. The rest are mainstays and some of the best anime series ever, there's no excuse to not be watching these superstars of the anime world.

In sum, 16 series releasing new episodes every week for the rest of the summer season. For all my criticism of the weak summer lineup, it's better than anything America could hope to produce. The only American tv shows worth anything were Seinfeld, Friends, Gilmore Girls, Firefly, Saved by the Bell, and Scrubs. Six shows in American tv history! The entire history of American TV couldn't compete with this single, weak, summer anime season. ((Of course, American sports are a different story. America's sports leagues are recognized as the best (strongest) in the world and our sports are extremely fun too. We almost always win the medal counts in the Olympics, showing we're nearly the best at everything. We also have the best fans in the world, with people filling up 100,000 man stadiums to watch football games every weekend all across the country. I have nothing against the sports shown on TV. But our dramas! Oh, our dramas!))

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