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Monday, July 6, 2015

Summer 2015 Anime First Impressions: Part 1

As usual, first impressions don't cover ongoing or sequel series but only new shows that I felt have enough potential to at least watch the first episode of.  This excludes a large part of the summer season, which is either a known good sequel or so bad a concept it's not even worth considering.

Gate:  I don't think the otaku related jokes were funny.  It reminds me of yowamushi pedal, another series that seemed to throw in otaku-dom simply to appeal to its audience, without any intrinsic storytelling internal consistency that would explain such a trait in our main character.  However, the situation is pretty unique and cool, a war between modern technology and medieval magic.  It has a feeling of being something you should sit back and eat popcorn to while watching.  This is a pretty famous series, so I expect a lot from it, but then again a lot of famous series have turned out to suck horribly once you actually get your first chance to review them -- like Ore Monogatari, Terra Formers or Owari no Seraph.  Just being famous isn't a sign of quality, and in this case too Gate didn't really perform up to the level of its reputation.  We'll just have to wait and see how reasonably the plot develops from here.  Pass.

Wakaba Girl:  Seeing as how this was by the same manga-ka as Kiniro Mosaic, it was pretty obvious this show was going to be good.  The short length and low budget animation/art style doesn't help this show live up to its Kiniro Mosaic twin though.  Kiniro Mosaic is one of the best anime of all time, whereas Wakaba Girl is just mildly cute and funny so far.  It's certainly watchable, but it's almost just as certainly not going to enter my rankings, either.  Pass.

Okusama ga Seitoukaichou:  I don't like how easily this guy gets such a high quality girl for no reason and with no effort on his part.  If girls like that really did fall from trees the world would be an entirely different place.  But to make matters worse, his reaction to this turn of events is so wimpy and non-assertive that I just grew more and more annoyed with him as the seconds ticked by.  Fail.

Ranpo Kitan - Game of Laplace:  I generally don't like mystery stories.  Detective Conan got really boring really fast.  But I don't hate all mystery stories.  There have been many good mystery anime before -- Higurashi, Umineko, Gosick, Hyouka come to mind.  I've read all the Sherlock Holme's stories, and some famous books by other mystery authors as well.  I'm not sure why some mystery authors manage to stay entertaining while others quickly become boring, since all mystery stories are episodic by their very nature.  But for some reason, Ranpo Kitan falls on the side of interesting instead of boring.  It could easily just be because Akechi is voiced by Takahiro Sakurai.  I could listen to that guy all day.  The very idea of a police drama disgusts me -- a crook does a crime, you track him down and catch him by the end of each episode -- but this somehow feels different.  The fact that the detectives don't personally care about crime but just like it as a real life game is pretty cool.  Because honestly, who cares what happens to complete strangers?  There are seven billion people on Earth and we never notice when they drown in ferry boat accidents or crash in airplanes so what does murder matter?  I can identify with these detectives as opposed to preachy pretentious cops.  Hopefully future episodes have the same entertaining feel as this one, but one can never tell with mystery shows, they're all so episodic. . .  Pass.

Classroom Crisis:  Almost a carbon copy of Mouretsu Pirates.  I watched Mouretsu Pirates all the way through and it earned the title of a good anime, somehow.  As such, a carbon copy of Mouretsu Pirates may as well get through my initial screening.  It can't be that bad, right?  Pass.

 Gangsta:  It's easy to be a gangster.  Just walk forward waving your sword and twenty enemies, all with handguns, will fall before you, not a single one being able to shoot your easily available target body.  This makes you as hard boiled as the drum beat music in the background.  Oh never mind.  This is about as stupid a male power trip fantasy as you can possibly get.  And a black girl for a heroine?  Yeah, no thanks.  Anime is usually better than this American type shit.  Why must anime try to stoop to our level?  Fail.

Aoharu x Kikanjuu:  I hate boy's love series, and I hate survival game series.  I've tried multiple survival game series and they all sucked immediately.  But Aoharu x Kikanjuu manages to avoid all those pitfalls and produce a good series somehow anyway.  First, the diminutive looking boy who's dominated by the aggressive man -- isn't a boy.  It's a girl.  This clears the first hurdle with flying colors.  Now that it's a normal hetero romance I can swallow it just fine as par for the course.  As for the second hurdle, the survival game aspect of the show hasn't dominated the plot as thoroughly as previous survival game based series.  Instead these characters have lives and motivations outside of their dumb sport, many of which lead to hilarious results.  So long as the story doesn't completely fixate on survival games, it will end up better than anyone could have expected.  This clears the second hurdle.  The story could always fall apart again if it just becomes people shooting toy guns at each other, but this first episode was completely different from that formula and pretty much flawless.  I can't be prejudiced, so no matter how many hangups I have with this genre I have to give this specific series a pass.  Pass. 

Rokka no Yuusha:  A charming story about heroes who can't wait to face the demon king.  They treat a threat to the world more like a sporting competition than a disaster, and can't wait to go on adventures and meet companions.  I have a feeling this series is trying too hard to make everything 'cool,' but that can be forgiven.  So long as it keeps this fun, lighthearted spirit I can see having fun along with them.  Pass.

Charlotte:  Was there ever any doubt?  This is a story by key, animated by P.A. Works, just like Angel Beats was.  Of course it was going to be great.  The moment the first episode aired, I added it to my list of great anime works.  At this point, with key's perfect track record so far, there's no use even trying to judge the show no matter what it does.  But to be more precise, I liked the series' protagonist.  He seemed like a fun guy to be around because he was so pleased with himself.  Sort of like the exact opposite of an emo, wishy-washy character, he always knew what he wanted to do and kept acting in order to fulfill those goals.  The girls in the story could use more work though.  The imouto was far too bubbly and cute, to the point of being a caricature of a person instead of a full fledged entity.  The girl with the video camera seems more annoyingly intrusive than protagonist-level heroine.  Even though I'm sold on the man in this series, the women are going to have to try harder than that.   Pass.

Ushio to Tora:  The art style isn't very appealing.  I could get over that, but the plot wasn't very appealing either.  There are random monsters and Ushio has to deal with them all.  Yeah, okay, whatever.  Yawn.  To make matters worse, the show's sense of comedy is 'let's make everything ten times as rude, vulgar and violent as necessary to get the story's points across and call it humor.'  We're entering three stooges level of sophistication here.  I'm just too smart for this show.  Fail.

Chaos Dragon:  I really wanted to like this series.  It has so much talent embedded in the making of it, you would think it would be a surefire success.  I'm also a huge fan of fantasy stories and tabletop roleplaying, so this should be a no-brainer success.  However, the episode actually sucked.  The main character is an annoying 'reluctant hero' who never makes any decisions, but instead has all of his decisions made for him by the overwhelming power of the plot.  The most ridiculous time was when the dragon eye jewel literally jumped off the pavement and latched onto his chest.  I hate reluctant heroes, they do absolutely nothing and yet somehow everything works out for them anyway.  In addition, they did a bunch of character introductions of people who don't matter yet and therefore should not have been featured in this episode.  We could have always met them later when they became relevant to the plot, but instead they just randomly appear and make some portentous, meaningless lines because we have no idea what they're talking about or who they're referring to.  I'm also annoyed that they virtually copied the death of the girl in this ep with the death of the girl in the first ep of Owari no Seraph.  Trying to get cheap feels out of cheap sudden deaths is getting old fast.  This is no Cross Game, where the death actually mattered, instead it's just a lame excuse to get the plot rolling faster.  To make matters worse, the CG looked fakey and the music was bad too.  Even so, even so, I'm going to keep on watching this series because I just had that much hope for it originally.  Maybe from now on the show will get better.  There's no way Chaos Dragon could actually be bad, right?  Right?  Pass.

Jitsu wa Watashi wa:  I didn't expect anything from this show, but it was quite sweet.  The people got along well with each other.  The green haired girl is cute, and I love kansai-ben.  It was funny and romantic, which is all you can ask for from a love comedy.  I just suspect that there will be a big drop off in quality in future episodes as more annoying gag characters are introduced.  But I can't fault the series for things that haven't happened yet.  For now it's a good show.  Pass.

Akagami no Shirayuki Hime:  Like all shoujo series it has annoying shoujo tropes.  The most annoying of which is that the only possible use for a guy is to fight off even more evil guys who would otherwise have raped her.  If only all guys were banished from this world, girls would have nothing to fear and thus no need for romance, but so long as half the guys are pure evil, you have to date the less evil second half just to stay safe in this rotten world.  I'm so tired of this genocidal anti-male hatred showing up in story after story, from Ore Monogatari to this it's always the same.  Apart from the annoying tropes, the story is good enough I suppose.  There was nothing particularly good or bad about the plot or characters who will henceforth take the limelight.  I supect I'll tire of this show quickly but I'll keep watching for now.  Pass.

Joukamachi no Dandelion:  This show never got subbed, so of course it ended up being the best show of the summer season.  The first ep of this series was better than the first episode of Charlotte.  Who knows how much more I would like the show if I understood the Japanese language perfectly instead of just somewhat.  I love the setting, plot, and characters.  Everything seemed to flow so well, no massive info dump segment that most first episodes have to rely on.  Instead, the story managed to just tell itself by the events that just so happened to unfold on the day we began watching.  I can't praise this series enough.  It's gorgeous on top of everything else.  I wouldn't be surprised if this entered my great anime rankings soon, but at the least I'd like to see it subbed before then.  Pass.

Still to come:  Million Doll, Danchigai, Sore ga Seiyuu, Overlord, Monster Musume no Iro Nichijou, Kussen Madoushi Kohousei no Kyoukan, Himouto! Umaru-chan, Gakkou Gurashi, Kangoku Gakuen, and God Eater.  It's been a strong summer season so far, as expected, and it's only going to keep getting better from here.

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