First Impressions – Summer 2015

Ah, summer. The nice fresh air, vacations and road trips, unbearable heat…bugs…work…nevermind, why go through that when you could stay in and watch fuckin’…anime? Haru and Yata watched a handful of pilots (only pilots) from this first week of the summer season and are here to tell you their thoughts. God Eater isn’t out yet, and I think that’s the only notable thing not included here. The outlook on this season going in was that it would be carried by a few sequels and we weren’t expecting much out of the new shows. Some surprised us, if only barely, and some raised the bar. Hell, Haru and Yata even disagreed about multiple things for once! What’s worth watching and worth moving on from already? Us bros give you the low-down on summer 2015.

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ACTUALLY, I AM… (JITSU WA WATASHI WA)

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Still a better love story than Twilight. (there’s your vampire joke, now go home)

Summary: Asahi Kuromine can’t keep a straight face when he lies. Card games, crushes, you name it, his thoughts are always obvious, and considering that, it’s pretty hard to entrust him with any knowledge you want to remain secret. You know, knowledge such as accidentally discovering your crush Youko Shiragami has retractable wings and fangs and is kind of a vampire.

Yatahaze:
“It’s a fun, clumsy, one-of-a-kind vampire romantic comedy,” the synopses say. “One-of-a-kind” Actually, I Am is not. However, it is somewhat fun, fairly clumsy, and undeniably a vampire romantic comedy. Take that as you will.

While I don’t take too much offense to the really awkward retro art, I understand why so many do; it just doesn’t look good. The character designs are awkward and jagged, the coloring staff apparently unfamiliar with the old proverb “less is more.” The OP, ED, and promo art all hint at harem, ecchi, and (probably poor) sci-fi elements in the future, and yet…yet…

I don’t know. I still enjoyed this pilot a reasonable amount. Kuromine’s good-spirited anxiousness and Shiragami’s simple-minded obliviousness make the two a good match. Kuromine’s friends are generic but fun to watch interact, a good start for the trio somewhere between pure trolling and “oh, you” compassion for their dear unfortunate friend. In general, the comedic timing is surprisingly pleasant. I seriously doubt it will stay that way, but I’d rather assume the series is innocent until proven guilty.
Should you watch? Based on this, sure.

Harubro:
Gosh, I really don’t know how I feel about this one.

I really want to say this show is kind of bad, kind of goofy, and possibly pointless, but it really doesn’t feel like a waste. In fact, this show was actually mildly entertaining.

Though there is somewhat of a “been there, done that” feel to this show, it also has a mildly whimsical tone to it that overrides that former feel, if you catch my drift. Despite the sort of awkward art style the show has, the pilot was well animated, with attention paid to some rather subtle movements made by a bunch of characters throughout the pilot. As for the actual dialogue, it’s pretty typical high school fare, pretty much just Kuromine, an honest-to-a-fault kid shooting the breeze with his buddies before he attempts to confess to his crush, the secretive Shiragami, who in a slightly comedic turn of events reveals she’s a vampire.

Ooooooooohhh boy.

From the looks of it, this show might not last long with me, but hey, this pilot was passable, if only just. This show is in a really weird gray area for me, as I’m not particularly sure I dig this show. I sure don’t dislike it though, at least, not yet.
Should you watch? Eeeeeeeeehhhhhhhhhhhhh maybe?

AOHARU x MACHINEGUN

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muh second amendment

Summary: Hotaru Tachibana is the student council president at his school and dedicated to stopping “evil” wherever he finds it. He faces two dilemmas; first, he’s about to start living on his own and his neighbor is a carefree man with a gun, and second, his best friend Kanae has no money because of a host club. Naturally, Hotaru busts in to said host club to avenge his friend’s wallet, but his new neighbor Masamune Matsuoka is actually one of the hosts, and if Hotaru wants to pick a fight, they’re going to do it the adult way: with guns.

Yatahaze:
Except surpriiiiiiise, they’re just airsoft guns! And surpriiiiiiise, Hotaru’s actually a girl, just dressed like a boy. And surpriiiiiiise, if she had just listened to Kanae instead of punching windows in an idealistic fury, she would’ve known Kanae wasn’t actually wronged at all.

So that’s quite a start. It’s a ridiculous premise and AxM at least totally owns it. The guns are well-animated, the action choreography was serviceable, and Hotaru’s dress sense isn’t continually played for laughs (yet). That said, unless you fit in the very specific niche of loving gender benders, survival games, and slapstick comedy with bishounen, this probably won’t be a massive hit in your eyes. Hotaru’s personality is pretty grating too; when you have a character whose only shtick is “I HATE EVIL, NOW LOOK AT ME PUNCHING THINGS BECAUSE I GET ANGRY WHEN I SEE PEOPLE DO EEEEEVIL,” you might want to rethink that character. True, it occasionally backfires for her with a joke that actually lands, but it’s still too one-dimensional to give her character any variety. In fact, I’m assuming that’s why she cross-dresses as a boy; there’d be nothing else to her character otherwise, and these shows have to sell copies somehow, right? Masamune’s not great either, at first blocking Hotaru’s door at the apartment complex while smoking and saying “tits” to someone on his cell phone to give the series a dose of raunchy “comedy.” His game face is on while at work and that makes him a little better, but with two below average lead characters and a concept that’s too crazy to take seriously but too shallow to be funny as a parody, Aoharu x Machinegun gets an easy failing grade from me. If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball, but being able to dodge BB pellets doesn’t mean you can dodge the drop list.
Should you watch? No.

Harubro:
…that was definitely a Dodgeball reference there. Awesome.

*ahem*

I kind of had my hopes for this wildly speculative pick I decided to watch, and was promptly and utterly disappointed beyond my wildest dreams. That’s not to say that Aoharu x Machinegun was all bad, but it had many more faults than it did features.

The story follows Hotaru Tachibana, a very boy-ish girl (she even wears a boys’ uniform for school) who obsesses over defeating evildoers, such as bullies coercing lunch money or pretty boys saying all the wrong things, you know, the rather mundane evildoers. Anyways, “through strange circumstances,” a.k.a. a complete and utter misunderstanding that easily could’ve been avoided, she finds herself in debt to a host club due to her making a total wreck of the place.

How, you ask?

This is an airsoft gun show. I hadn’t even the slightest clue that it was, up until that pretty boy fired the gun at Hotaru from point blank. What makes me laugh about that is how this show is so wildly fantastic with the actual process of messing with airsoft guns. Loading them is always a mess, plus they don’t have recoil OR a muzzle flash, and most aren’t made of metal as the sound effects imply. The silliest part of it all was when everyone at the host club, guests included, donned their safety glasses on cue as if airsoft duels were a routine at the club. That whole scene had me laughing from the sheer ridiculousness of it all. But hey, a good part of this show was adequately pretty, even with all the over-exposed lighting.

As childish as this show’s setup is (think Ouran + airsoft + traditional noisy shounen protag), I’m almost tempted to watch maybe one or two more episodes to see if this show can keep its ridiculousness factor up.
Should you watch? Are/Were you that kid that fired airsoft guns at soda cans and stuff in the backyard? Then maaaaaaaybe. Most of you should probably avoid this, though.

CASTLE TOWN DANDELION

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Dandelion ain’t so dandy.

Summary: The Sakurada family is huge; with 9 siblings and the two parents in one modest house, things get pretty crowded. Add to that the Sakurada patriarch Souichirou is also the king of their country, all the kids have supernatural powers, and they’re constantly watched by surveillance cameras for news networks to cover their every move. Third Princess Akane doesn’t want any of this; she’s too shy and loathes being in the public eye all the time. Thus when Souichirou decides the heir won’t be based on age but by democratic election, Akane freaks out, overwhelmed by the surge of coverage…until she realizes if she wins, she can end the constant invasion of her and her family’s privacy.

Yatahaze:
If there’s one trend this season, it’s that shows seem to be doing things half right; it just matters if the part that’s right aligns with what you’re looking for. This series’ premise, while a little hammy, is certainly nothing to shrug off. Wanting a little more privacy is nothing to be ashamed of, and perfectly natural for a child in a ridiculously large family. Souichirou’s decision makes plenty of sense too; if he has the means to do this and he thinks the family will grow and learn from the election either way, what’s the harm? This is all fine, and for the most part, the family does bicker and enjoy themselves in a balanced manner, convincingly family-like. It’s nice to see none of the siblings pull a 180 and act like a cunning asswipe in order to win.

But that’s where this show’s positives get blown around in the wind.

For one, the superpower aspect of Castle Town Dandelion’s premise is just too much. The kids apparently have the powers as part of the royal lineage, but neither the father nor mother do, and though they’ve apparently had these powers since birth, Akane only just now realizes that if she flies with her ability to reduce her weight, the wind will blow her skirt up and the whole town will see her panties. And of course, because this is anime, that joke is milked for all its worth and then some, despite not having any logical reason for it to occur in the first place. Aaaand of course, with all those powers, we need an arbitrary PR stunt to boost public image in which all the kids use their powers to play the equivalent of a celebrity game show, though it was really all just to let the commentator narrate several minutes worth of exposition to us about each and every kid’s power, most of which were run of the mill and could’ve been naturally shown without overt commentary.

With all that, any potential Castle Town Dandelion has just seems too unlikely to be capitalized on. It’s a shame, because although the premise is a little out there on its own, with grounded storytelling and ditching the superpower idea, the show might’ve turned out alright. Some grounded storytelling remains, for example it’s fitting Akane loves being at school because she’s less pestered by her family who doesn’t get her anxiety and there aren’t cameras there. The family, again, still feels like a family, but the good things that set Castle Town Dandelion apart aren’t the show’s focus, and the rest of its runtime is average at best. As it is, there’s too much going on and too little reason to care. Good news, Akane: one less person will be seeing any more of you from here on out.
Should you watch? Nah.

CHARLOTTE

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“I spy with my little eye one powertripping egotistical dou- oh, you found yourself. Nice work, Yuu.”

Summary: Yuu Otosaka has the ability to briefly switch bodies with someone in his immediate line of sight. Instead of using this ability responsibly, he ends up causing fights between passersby, sneaking peeks at girls’ panties, and cheating on tests. That all goes well enough for him until people get suspicious of his perfect scores and he’s exposed as a fraud by Nao Tomori, a girl wielding a camera who had been invisibly following him around documenting his abuse of power. After trying to run, Nao and her peer Joujirou Takajou “convince” Yuu to transfer from his current school to theirs, Hoshinoumi Academy, a school specifically for teens with supernatural abilities.

Yatahaze:
So uh, as you might’ve guessed, Charlotte’s pilot is pretty packed. Even without an OP and ED, there was a hell of a lot to get through in a short 24 minutes. Most importantly, Yuu is easily established as an asshole and someone’s who’s seen his fair share of familial hardship. His parents are divorced, the rest of his family seems fractured, and he lives alone with his younger sister; something a lot of anime protagonists take for granted (ugh), but he seems to resent. It doesn’t excuse his attitude (there’s a point in this episode where he literally uses his power to veer a massive truck off the road just so he can “save” his crush and look like a hero) but it makes it a little more understandable.

From a pure entertainment standpoint, Yuu reminds me a lot of Lelouch; idealistic, almost all ego, bitter inside, and a complete ham to watch. The show made fair enough use of comedic timing with Nao’s invisibility gag, and Joujirou’s chase scene was pure hilarity, with some very fluid animation to boot. My least favorite part of this pilot (aside from the fairly standard playing field the show is working off of) is without a doubt Yuu’s younger sister, Ayu, who speaks in third person with an over-the-top kawaii disposition and at the moment has little use other than lolicon bait and to make Yuu look even more dickwadish in comparison.

So one episode in, Charlotte is about 1/2 cartoon villainy with a terrible but entertaining protagonist, and 1/2 active work towards the plot. I can’t promise the show will remain interesting or original, and I’m worried it won’t make the most of its potential, but after this episode, I’m eager to see more. So far, Charlotte gets a middle of the pack passing grade for me.
Should you watch? Yes.

Harubro:
Prepare yourselves, for Key and P.A. Works have teamed up once again to create a show, and that does have me just a bit eager. The last time these two teamed up was when they cranked out Angel Beats, a show I thoroughly enjoyed despite its various flaws.

So, onto Charlotte.

Honestly, this was a strong contender for my favorite pilot of this season. I loved the way this show spent its first half building Yuu up into this genius bad-boy (think of a perfect mix of Lelouch and Kanie Seiya) putting his ability to take over people’s bodies for 5 seconds to all the worst uses, including perv-ing, starting fights amongst people he dislikes, or cheating on tests.

Then he gets called out on his shenanigans, and a very, very entertaining chase and dialogue sequence takes place that stays thoroughly entertaining up until Yuu’s talks with his younger sister. Whoever conceptualized her as a character to the “kawaii imouto” dial and turned it up to 11, because that was really the only bone I had to pick with this pilot.

So this show has gorgeous P.A. Works visuals, a decent soundtrack, some above-average slapstick applied with decent timing, and a chance for a good dose of drama and comedy. I’m also curious to see where these “imperfect” abilities will really start to come into play. Charlotte stands a chance to be everything that Chuunibattle could’ve been. Thus, this show ticks most of the boxes needed for me to stay on board. Here’s hoping it stays golden.
Should you watch? Yes.

CLASSROOM CRISIS

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“Well kids, I’d hand out your assignments, but our new kid just got kidnapped, so…”

Summary: In the future, humanity has created colonies on terraformed planets and moons in the solar system. In the Japanese colony on Mars, some select students also work as employees for a company called the Kirishina Corporation in its A-TEC (Aerospace Technology) department, effectively scholarship recipients on work study. When a new transfer student is suddenly taken hostage in space, the class, led by homeroom teacher/promising engineer Kaito Sera, takes their own initiative instead of waiting for the higher-ups to take action. This turns out to (quite literally) be a costly mistake.

Yatahaze:
Classroom Crisis’ best aspect is its world. It’s not particularly fleshed out just yet, but the bits of information we got scattered throughout this pilot certainly intrigued me. Instead of over the top warring factions (*cough* Aldnoah.Zero), humanity seems to be getting along well diplomatically, the real trouble stemming from corporate fiascos and poor budget spending. The classroom consists of a fair enough range of “obvious weirdos,” though none of them left much more of an impression other than the pilot Iris (who’s basically Inaho with a vagina) and whoever the girl in the glasses was who absolutely lost her shit when the newly-finished state of the art prototype spacecraft Iris was piloting for the hostage rescue got totally trashed and shed parts into the deepest recesses of outer space.

Cause yeah, that happened. No wonder the class has to watch its finances from this point onward. I wasn’t kidding about the Inaho comparison either; Iris just jumped into the spacecraft without alerting anyone, steered her way through an asteroid field with nary a hint of change in expression, and when she realized the landing gear wouldn’t work, decided to wreck the whole ship into the vessel to pick up the hostage…apparently not concerned with how she’d be getting home.

Luckily, the hostage (whose name I’ll refrain from spoiling for the rest of this), also took issue with this ostentatious display of gusto, having already negotiated his own way out of the crisis…not that that’s much less whimsical. It’ll take some strict focus to keep Classroom Crisis on track and within the realm of realism it’d need to be a pass in my book, but it didn’t completely ruin itself just yet. In fact, while I’ll need much more time to warm up to the characters, the show is still something I’d be intrigued in continuing. Whether that ends up like Plastic Memories and solely enjoyable for a few small production elements (in this instance, some great music and timing), I don’t know. I’m curious to see where we end up though, as long as it doesn’t get too ridicul-

Wait.
What the fuck is this?
How does Palau have a colony on Mars?

Oh man, this is gonna be a divisive one to the end, I can feel it now. Try me, Classroom Crisis. I’m ready for you.
Should you watch? Maaaaaybe?

Harubro:
Wait, didn’t we just finish up a show about Martians with advanced technology?…

….oh wait, this show is completely different.

Making their full-length show debut as studio is Lay-duce, with their new sci-fi slice of life Classroom Crisis, which is set in a future where humanity has colonized the planets of the solar system. It seems as though things are going quite well, with a handful of countries (lol Palau) establishing colonies all over the place.

It seems as though life on Mars might as well be the same as it would here on Earth, as these colonies look a lot more like home than what the Martians in the “other” show I mentioned earlier had to put up with. We have sprawling corporations harvesting asteroids and other interplanetary objects for materials, one of which runs the school that we follow in this show. This class is predictably a bunch of weirdos and prodigies, because who the hell else? So yeah, an upper-up for the school’s parent corporation gets taken hostage, and this class (due to the actions of Inaho-girl) inadvertently sets out for a daring rescue mission, and some apparently ludicrously expensive damage of property takes place at the hands of Inaho-girl, who barely breaks even a sweat during it all, though her classmates had some more realistic reactions to it all.

If my description makes this show sound underwhelming, then you have my apologies, because this show was anything but underwhelming. It was certainly a good bit of fun, not nearly as ambitious as I had hoped, but I can’t blame Lay-duce for wanting to play it sort of safe here with their big debut. Despite that, this show has all sorts of potential it could tap into, and I certainly hope that it can harness it, because Classroom Crisis could be all sorts of fun.
Should you watch? Sure.

DRRR!! x2 TEN

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[insert weeb fans blabbering about humanity being interesting]

Summary: The second of three cours that make up urban jungle gangster fantasy clusterfuck Durarara’s second season.

Yatahaze:
Seriously, clusterfuck it is, but this episode was an extremely natural way to ease back into the intense ending of Shou, the first cour of season two that aired back in winter. Izaya, still recovering from the stab wound he received in Shou’s finale and forced to stay in the hospital for a day or two, contemplates why he was attacked and how people are taking the news of his incident. But of course this really means he just trolls the investigators, puts on his innocent face around the nurses, and prepares himself for more chaos. He still gets a thrill on what would otherwise be a day off from stirring shit up, something highlighted by Celty and Shinra’s brief vacation, on which they discussed the perks and disadvantages of abnormality and if vacations are even worth it for the abnormal.

Though strangely enough, it’s not the abnormal that sneaks in to take a punch at Izaya while he’s down, but a normal person he playfully menaced back when he was still into toying with emotionally unstable people. The attack doesn’t go in the girl’s favor, Izaya dodging her slash through his hospital bed pillow and pinning her to the floor as he becomes overjoyed with the long forgotten fun of being an asshole to people lower than him. If this is a spur of the moment thing or a return to roots for the scheming devil, I don’t know, but either way, mysterious newcomer Yodogiri Jinnai will likely do what he can to keep Izaya out of the picture. While we haven’t met him yet, his reputation seems to precede him with some of the characters. The Kishitanis and Yagiris are wary, and considering the words they’ve described him with (“cancerous”), everyone else should have reason to be too. Concluding the episode, Shinra and Celty return from their vacation to find Aoba standing in their apartment, hand still bandaged and “looking for friends.”

In a close call, two of this season’s sequels, this and Gatchaman Crowds Insight, are without a doubt the winners for best pilot, a title I think DRRR gets the gold for by a nose. My only real complaint with Ten thus far is its utterly lackluster OP, a first for the whole Durarara franchise. That’s not much to be bummed about though. Durarara is back again, baby.
Should you watch? If you’ve seen the previous material, yes.

Harubro:
It’s baaaaaaaack, again…. again.

Durarara picks up right where we left off after a season-long break, and it’s all business as usual in the Narita-verse. One plot closes, and another opens. With a series like this, “rinse and repeat” is truly something that I don’t particularly mind.

In true Narita show season starter fashion, we get some glimpses into what most of the relevant characters are up to after that messy gang war between the Dollars and the biker gang. However, our highlight character for the second arc’s pilot was none other than the resident fangirl favorite Izaya, who is still recovering in the hospital after getting a much-deserved comeuppance in the last arc’s closing act.

After watching this episode, one should realize something very quickly, if they haven’t caught on already: Izaya Orihara is a sociopathic scumbag. It amazes me how many people actually admire this guy, when literally everyone in Ikebukuro despises him. Actually, the very fact that he is so very despised may very well play into a certain character’s development this season, says this Durarara light novel reader…. spoilers aside, if you thought that last fight was crazy, prepare yourselves. The Blue Square/Dollars pact is gonna make some waves in Ikebukuro.

This season’s gonna be a wild ride, I’m ready for more.
Should you watch? If you’ve watched all the Durrrs before this one. Do it.

GANGSTA.

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If I lived in a place named Ergastulum, I might want to kill myself too.

Summary: The city of Ergastulum is a dump. Mafia men rule, prostitution is rampant, drugs are everywhere and petty gangs pop up every now and then. The eye-patched Worick and mostly deaf Nic are Handymen, taking on jobs no one else wants to handle.

Yatahaze:
Two things to get out of the way first: this show is very slow, albeit a controlled slow, and its animation quality is literal trash.

If either of those things seem surprising to you, you’re in good company. With a name like Gangsta and the rough-edged adult shounen art style this show has, I was expecting a violent, indulgent, high-octane rampage through the alleys of a bustling grungy city. Instead, Gangsta is subdued, generally calm, and not one to make lowbrow jokes about how awful everything in its setting is. Character interactions are fairly quiet and conversational, and Nic’s disability and Alex’s job aren’t played for laughs. The latter things especially are tastefully brought up, Nic and Worick using sign language to communicate and any scene with Alex except the end drenched in pure sadness. The voice acting and soundtrack are also great, smooth dialogue and slow faintly jazzy score greatly adding to the experience. While the events in this episode are confined to alleys and damp buildings with old architecture, they don’t immediately have any permanent sense of place, feeling run-down and oh so very mob flick-ish. The talk about the men being “tags” with no further elaboration on the term is a solid enough way to bait me into wanting more, and it succeeded. More hits than misses at the moment.

That said, Gangsta’s biggest enemy right now is a tough one to overcome: absolute shit animation. Really. It’s bad. It’s terribly bad. Some polish would go a long way and could actually make this pilot a highlight, but that bad quality at times feels like it tears the cohesiveness of various scenes apart. Gangsta currently has enough ideas going for it and enough substance behind it to make it easier to discard the animation troubles, but it’s still a serious problem that might make the show harder to watch when the action really picks up. The character designs are also a little generic and occasionally off-model, but they at least fit the show. So again, more hits than misses, but Gangsta feels like it could flop either way between misguided potential or scrappy dark horse of the summer. Keep an eye out.
Should you watch? Yes.

GATCHAMAN CROWDS INSIGHT (& INBOUND)

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GATCHA~MAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNN

Summary: The sequel to Tatsunoko Production’s 2013 love it or hate it superhero/sci-fi reboot Gatchaman Crowds, set after a mild timeskip.

Yatahaze:
Something about Gatchaman Crowds didn’t click with me when I first watched it back in 2013. Maybe I approached it from the wrong angle, expecting more characterization than we got and dismissing its themes as idealistic rubbish. Whatever the case, upon a quick rewatch two weeks ago, it clicked. Gatchaman Crowds is a lot of things at once, but it excels most at being not a deconstruction but a critique of superheroes. It questioned what made a superhero in a world of rapidly advancing technology (GALAX, X, CROWDS) and interconnectedness where people with access to it are made equal in terms of power, and while it never went the extra mile to frame the technology itself as the reason for violence and destruction, it showed how people abusing it could easily damage the world around them.

A lot of things happened in this sequel’s pilot and Inbound, its preceding ONA, but the villains this time around seem to be, yet again, people using CROWDS as a weapon. This time though, these people don’t want to use it for the sake of omnipotence and aggression, but to create constant panic so public opinion of the technology will dwindle down enough that its existence is seen as more of a curse than a blessing. Last season’s presentation of near-total good (Hajime~su) and near-total evil (Berg-Katze, the epitome of all Mamoru Miyano roles) was a little heavy-handed, but it drove a clear narrative throughout the show. I’m not convinced just yet that Insight will create the same dynamic with a handful of dissatisfied VAPE (Violent Ape, and yes, that’s the actual name of their organization) members, but I’m willing to see how it goes.

And more than that, the returning cast proved to be far more endearing than I thought they would be. With a timeskip between the first season and this one come some interesting changes in the G-team members’ lives; Sugane’s now graduated and off to college, Joe works as a direct supervisor to Prime Minister Sugayama, O.D. does silly news programming, Paiman became a (more) competent leader, and Hajime now has to keep on keeping on with Berg-Katze’s diminished but still very much bitter remains inside of her. Their bickering is pure gold. Oh, and Utsutsu and Rui are there, but we didn’t see as much of them yet, which is fine considering their character arcs practically wrapped up entirely last season.

While the protagonist cast includes the same people it did before, it also has two new additions; a spunky aspiring fireworks maker named Tsubasa Misudachi and an alien with some connection to the others, Gelsadra. Tsubasa is a fun mix of Hajime’s enthusiasm and Sugane’s short fuse, and she promises to be an entertaining character all her own as Insight rolls on. Gelsadra I’m a little less enthusiastic about at the moment. She presented some of the silliest scenes in episode 1, but her personality is hard to pin down; absent-minded and easily influenced by the atmosphere, she’s hard to get a solid read on. She apparently has the ability to materialize icons that display people’s moods, the implications of which are neat and will likely play a role in this season’s shenanigans, so that’s cool. Guess we’ll see how exactly she factors into everything as Insight continues.

On the production side, the show looks as beautiful as ever, with the same bright colors and sharp outlines the first season had. The scenery in Nagaoka was a break from the used-to-death setting of Tachikawa in season 1. The new character designs are solid and there seems to be some refinement to the old ones, as well as the animation quality. White Ash returns for another gibberish OP with half-animated/half-real world visuals and the ED is swell too. All around, Gatchaman Crowds Insight is looking up. The sequel I didn’t even realize I wanted is finally here.
Should you watch? Yes, if you’ve seen the previous material.

Harubro:
Man, it just seems like this Summer is the season of sequels, with Gatchaman Crowds Insight being one of my more anticipated watches this season.

I was really keen on Crowds’ first season, as the themes it explored were as deep and spectacular as the characters of the show weren’t. As bland as the characters were, the show’s style just oozed flair, even more so with this new season. I’m normally not big on CG in anime, but Crowds has it all figured out. It just feels like it should be animated that way for those zazzy Gatchaman transformations and the battles that accompany them. The music continues to be fantastically epic, as I adore that they kept that obnoxious “GATCHA-MAAAAAAAAAAAAAN” track that plays during the action sequences in this show. There is a flamboyant and positive aura to this show you just can’t help but gravitate to.

I do wonder how Insight will expand upon the theme of the role of technology in society that the first season nailed so well. That isn’t doubt on my part that this sequel can execute, just simple curiosity. In any case, I’m giddy just knowing I’ll get to hear the “GATCHA-MAAAAAAAAAAAN” theme fairly regularly again.
Should you watch? If you’ve seen the first season, plus the Inbound OVA.

GATE: JIEITAI KANOCHI NITE, KAKU TATAKAERI

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mmmmm no, shut the gates.

Summary: 33-year-old otaku Youji Itami is excited to attend a doujinshi convention when all of a sudden a portal opens to an alternate world and monsters and soldiers come out, attacking the Ginza district of Tokyo. The Japan Ground Self Defense Force immediately takes action to prevent further damage, and they seal the gate. Youji, meanwhile, saves some civilians and promptly gets appointed as a JGSDF lieutenant. A few months later, Japan decides to take the offensive and open the gate back up, militarily going into the Special Region inside.

Yatahaze:
Sound like Outbreak Company with a little more violence and a protagonist two times as old? Yeah, that’s about it. And also less funny.

You see, when your protagonist has to remind the audience several times per episode that he only works to sustain his passion for otakudom, going so far as to complain while saving civilians from the monsters that “they’ll probably cancel the convention if this doesn’t stop soon,” you’ve already lost me. And it’s not a presentation of comic villainy like Yuu is in Charlotte; Youji is otherwise very bland, and his interference with the evacuation feels so lopsided, other officials just following his word with no explanation. And this is before he gets that promotion to a prominent position. So much of it is already hackneyed and…well, very otaku.

In fact, the show feels like a cash grab on all sides; it has the standard A-1 look and dialogue style of Sword Art Online, the back and forth grisly/goofy attitude with no emotional nuance of Akame ga Kill, and the military power fantasy setup of Outbreak Company mushed in a ball and thrown at hordes of eager fans ready to pick up anything reminiscent of those series. And I suppose if you really liked those, then yes, you’ll probably like Gate. There’s barely anything in this first episode actually set in the fantasy world the show will probably take place in, and minus the otaku protagonist, this is a premise I could easily get behind seeing through. There comes a point though where wishful thinking has to stop and I’ve got to come to terms with acknowledging this show’s goals and my expectations for it are more than likely not going to align. That point came about 5 minutes into this pilot.
Should you watch? Like otaku power fantasies? Why the hell not. Don’t? Then no.

Harubro:
I don’t even know why I bothered to watch this show. I wanted to be fair and give this show a chance, but all I got out of this watch was that I wanted those 24 minutes of my life back.

It’s not even that Gate is offensively bad, it’s just got such a weak premise to it that it really needed to go above and beyond to impress with its pilot, and sure enough, it didn’t. For starters, it’s a fact that I tend to dislike shows that glorify otaku main characters, but at least this one seems to be doing something useful, even if it only is to finance his otaku hobby. Another bone I have to pick is that this pilot inevitably had this militaristic tone to it that I just don’t really dig. Stylistically, Gate’s pilot was standard A-1 fare, so it looked and sounded pretty decent for the most part. Can I just stop wasting any more of my time on this show right here?

This is one that I can say for sure that I will not pick up. Maybe next time, A-1.
Should you watch?: What Yata said. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

HIMOUTO! UMARU-CHAN

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Taihei couldn’t afford a brand new Imouto, so he settled for the cheap off-brand one. Never settle.

Summary: Umaru Doma is beautiful, well-liked by her peers, and academically successful…but that’s not how her brother Taihei sees her. At home, she might as well be an entirely different person; lazy, self-centered, and with a complete disregard for her other people, the gag comedy based off a 4-koma explores Umaru’s daily life of eating junk food and gaming.

Yatahaze:
If this pilot is any indication, Umaru’s daily life is actually just being a total prick to her brother in blob form, throwing tantrums so he caves in to her unreasonable demands while also putting up a façade in public to make her look like a saint. It’s just the dynamic of the show, but the comedy of Umaru’s routine fits and “manipulation” (if we can even call it that) goes from silly to frustrating really fast. I’ve never seen a teenage character act like more of an infant. To accompany this, she even morphs into a squishy chibi creature at home, constantly wearing a hamster hat and rolling around on the floor. It’s initially funny (and the show’s OP is certainly…something), but even after the first few minutes, everything about her character felt one-dimensional, somewhere between mocking her and reveling in her. Or maybe I’m just imagining the mocking because I desperately want to feel empathetic to Taihei…even though he’s just as bland of a character otherwise. Good comedy relies on precise timing and keeping things fresh. Himouto occasionally gets the timing down pat, but this episode left me feeling like there was nowhere new the show could go – and that was before the episode was even half over.
Should you watch? No.

Harubro:
I told myself I wasn’t gonna watch this, but I got roped into watching Himouto’s pilot. Fortunately, it wasn’t all that bad, considering I had no expectations of this show at all.

So, we have Doga Kobo sticking very comfortably to material that’s right in their wheelhouse, the comedic every-day 4-koma adaptation, not too ambitious of them, but hey, their two best shows (at least in my book) were both 4 koma adaptations. Not many people remember the underrated rom-com Love Lab, but most people surely know how well they did with Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, which is probably my favorite 4-koma anime of all time.

How does Himouto fare compared to those two? Well, it’s definitely not better than either of them, but Himouto was still amusing in a myriad of ridiculous ways. Dogokobo has a knack for facial expressions, both normal and goofy, and also for those exaggerated actions in gag scenes, of which this show is founded upon in it’s entirety. I really couldn’t stop myself from laughing at Umaru’s transformation from the perfect student at school to a lazy slob in a hamster getup at home. Just for added effect to that, she even looks short and super deformed during her bouts of slobbiness at home. Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper comedy without the straight man, with the role played to a T by Umaru’s older brother Taihei, who is your typical anime older brother. Yeah, the characters personalities are a tad dry in this one, but this show does deserve a little bit of praise for making the siblings’ relationship believable and not creepy at the very least, so points for that.

Though this pilot was adequately amusing, I think from this way this show is set up that what little novelty there is with this show will have worn off by next episode. If nothing else, you at least owe it to yourself to watch this show’s bonkers OP. I’ll give episode two a shot, but I’m very liable to drop that one mid-way through.
Should you watch?: Probably not.

MONSTER MUSUME: EVERYDAY LIFE WITH MONSTER GIRLS

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“Did you fuck the snake, Kurusu?” “UHHHHHH” “‘Cause that’s totally illegal, Kurusu.” “UHHHHHHH”

Summary: After the government passed the Interspecies Exchange Bill, demihumans (which were apparently a thing forever?) and humans were allowed to co-exist. The balance is delicate though; they can’t hurt one another or they’ll face jail time or be deported, and the adoption policy is somewhat strange, so when government employee Mrs. Smith ends up with spare monster girls she can’t house, she dumps them onto unwitting bland teenage boy Kurusu Kimihito.

Yatahaze:
Allow me to tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was (and still is) a man named Mango Boy. Well, his name wasn’t actually Mango Boy, but due to a habit of misspelling everything and reading too much manga, he became known as Mango Boy. Anyway, a while ago, Mango Boy really wanted me to check out this manga he liked called Everyday Life With Monster Girls. He said it was “deep” and “interesting” and that I’d love it with how I analyze things.

Mango Boy is a little shit, by the way.

So yeah, I didn’t get far into Monster Musume before I realized he was just being his usual shit self, but I got far enough to be curious when I saw this on the season preview chart. From what I can gather, this anime adaptation is rather true to its source material, positives and negatives both. The concept is so over-sexualized (the snake girl Miia even cums within the first three minutes of the episode) that unless you’re part of what I assume and hope is a very small minority of people actually into this, it’s impossible to enjoy for any little nuances it might have. From what I remember, Kurusu is extremely dull, some more girls get added every so often and fight over him, and Mrs. Smith just trolls the fuck out of the kid.

Mrs. Smith is the best part of this show, by the way.

I am done watching this show, by the way.
Should you watch? No.

PRISON SCHOOL (KANGOKU GAKUEN)

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why was this created

Summary: Hachimitsu Private Academy was an elite all-girls boarding school for years, but with new management comes a new policy: boys are to be admitted for the first time. This year, only five enroll, and after a peeping incident goes awry for the quintet, they’re subjected to torturous prison work and “punishment” by the underground/official (?!?) student council for a month.

Yatahaze:
I’m gonna cut to the chase. I had heard of Prison School long before this. I had heard it was utter nonsense, extremely sexual, and helplessly masochistic.

This is all true about the anime too.

And because it’s a sex comedy, a premise this downright stupid is either going to result in cringy eyerolls or uncontrollable laughter.

Somehow it resulted in both simultaneously.

The comedic timing is excellent, the characters are almost all on an equal playing field of being terrible caricatures, the facial expressions…well, just look at this. And there’s plenty more where that came from. The voice acting is even the audible equivalent of faces like those.

I seriously don’t know what to think. This is a terrible show, and it’s even more terrible knowing that I won’t be getting any new Shirobako as long as Tsutomu Mizushima has his plate filled with this. But goddamn, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show embrace its terribleness as much as Prison School embraces…everything that is Prison School. The episode moved so smoothly from one bonkers thing to another, leaving no time to overthink anything, and in doing so it demonstrated execution of awful sexual comedy at its finest. No exposition, no explanation, just…Prison School. This show is its own genre. Any comparison I tried to think up was either shot down as the episode kept going or doesn’t really make sense. I just can’t even.
Should you watch? I’m not qualified to answer that. Obviously for mature audiences only though.

RANPO KITAN: GAME OF LAPLACE

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Dude looks like a lady.

Summary: Game of Laplace is a modernized animated adaption of the works of 20th century Japanese mystery writer Ranpo Edogawa (or in Japanese, Edogawa Ranpo, or phonetically, Edoga Waran Po – say that a couple times out loud and you’ll see what he did there).

Yatahaze:
That information alone was enough to pique my interest. The last time I remember getting modernized works from a long since-passed writer was Un-Go, an absolutely fantastic mystery show that really understood the heart and soul of a good mystery series. Filled with lots of narrative bait and visually fitting setpieces, it also boasted a wonderful batch of characters and the necessary explanations about their resources to not completely stretch out of the realm of reality…even if it did include magic and demons.

But I’m not here to promote Un-Go, I’m here to talk about Game of Laplace, and generally when I make a comparison right off that bat like that, the show in question is either really similar to something else or totally missing the mark compared to a classic. Laplace has the spirit, but it also has a couple offsetting quirks. I can’t guarantee the characters introduced in this episode will be seen throughout the whole series, but as things stand now, the show’s pilot starts off with a young boy (who looks and sounds like a girl, but we’ll not get into that just yet) named Yoshio Kobayashi waking up in his classroom alone with a bloody saw and glancing at his now creatively decapitated homeroom teacher. After being questioned and released due to his young age, he and his friend Souji Hashiba track down a young investigator who had arrived on the scene shortly prior. When they find the troubled young man, Kogorou Akechi, Kobayashi asks to become his assistant, citing a love of mystery and hatred of the dull world around him. Akechi refuses, the two other lads unwittingly stall, and soon the police are at Akechi’s door, handcuffing Kobayashi after receiving more evidence that he was involved. Akechi issues one challenge; if Kobayashi can deduce the killer first, even in his soon-to-be immobile state, he’ll consider working together.

This is a really packed pilot, one with firm tone-setting instead of direct clues to the mystery at hand. The direction is quite good, flirting in and out of first-person visual narration as people Kobayashi hasn’t met appear to him as grayscale shadings until they’re important. Cheap budget saving move or not, that’s your call, but it fits the story and his character extremely well, as he’s so emotionally removed from everything around him until things get nasty and he gets excited. The more conversationally intense scenes at Akechi’s apartment demonstrate a solid understanding of tension, containing sharper lighting, mostly natural dialogue flow, immersive music, a cut-scene with neat background visuals similar to those in Hyouka, and character tics like Akechi’s drug addiction hinting at troublesome events to come. Minus some cringeworthy dialogue by Hashiba and the boys’ replacement homeroom teacher, a 32-year-old woman who talks like she’s a teenager and wears a cat-ear shaped garment on her head (seriously, Japan?), Laplace is looking to be a solid mystery show. The two characters I just mentioned and some of the policemen are fairly one-dimensional at the moment, but Laplace otherwise executed a solid pilot episode that left me eager for more.
Should you watch? Yes.

Harubro:
This definitely ended up being one of the stranger starts to a season for me. Laplace ended up being the first summer show that I watched this season, and I did have a couple of reasons to look forward to this one. On top of the story originally being written by a turn-of-the-century author, it’s also being adapted by the peerless Seiji Kishi (read that with a slight sarcastic tone) and the folks at Lerche, who just cranked out Assassination Classroom together.

Boy, when Kishi and Lerche team up, they sure love to do these slightly edgy shows, don’t they? Laplace doesn’t screw around, and cuts right to the chase, introducing us to our protagonist Kobayashi, a rather girlish-looking boy (sound familiar?) who wakes up to see the mutilated body of his teacher whilst holding a bloody saw in his hand. Here most kids his age would have an absolute panic attack, but Kobayashi seems very disconnected from it all.

As Yata mentions, whether it is Lerche cheaping out (can you blame them, they are putting THREE shows out this season, including that ghastly Monster Girls show) or whether it’s artistic flair, the depiction of background characters as gray silhouettes from what looks to be Kobayashi’s perspective worked well, as did just the general vibe and palette of the rest of the show. Case in point, the visit to Akechi’s apartment, chaotically organized, dimly lit and bathed in red, it’s all very surreal, much like this twisted game that Kobayashi and friend have found themselves in. As for the cringeworthy moments Yata brought up, well, it would be a Seiji Kishi show without a few, y’know? It’s almost a requirement. Let’s just hope that Laplace keeps the cringe-y stuff to a minimum.

The pieces are all in place for this show. I’m eager to see how this game will play out.
Should you watch? Yep.

ROKKA: BRAVES OF THE SIX FLOWERS

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Rokka of the Atlanta Braves wait no

Summary: Adlet Mayer claims to be the strongest man in the world. Disrupting a celebration and winning against two semifinalists in a fighting tournament in the Piena Kingdom prove he’s not all bark, but his accompanying bite gets him stoned by an angry crowd and thrown in jail. There he meets a “maid,” with whom he relays his plans to become one of the six Braves, legendary heroes who reincarnate over time in order to defeat the Demon God and the fiends he sets forth across the land. Because Adlet might as well actually be the strongest man in the world, he turns into one of the Braves and escapes to their rendezvous point with the maid from earlier who, big surprise, isn’t actually a maid, but Nashetania, the Princess of Piena.

Yatahaze:
Everything I just discussed in that summary the show executed extremely well. The action choreography was nothing short of outstanding and the two main characters thus far are, though a bit bare bones, pretty fun to watch. The fantasy world is a ridiculous amalgamation of European-style storytelling, Mesoamerican architecture, and the obligatory very Japanese thing or two (looking at you, bunny ears). It struggled to make complete sense, but it sure succeeded in entertaining.

Rokka’s big low point was its information dump to end all information dumps; one that lasted almost the entire middle half of the episode and tried to tell us too much too quickly, resulting in everything blurring together. Going through it twice has barely helped, weird names certainly not making anything easier. If this is all absolutely vital information, it could’ve been presented much clearer and more naturally, and if it’s not, then what a waste of time that was. There was so much there it makes me wonder if the show was just eager to get it out of the way so it could really take off from this point on; it’d certainly be plausible seeing as most synopses of Rokka try to hook you with an event that didn’t even occur yet. If this was a solitary stumble, then man, I have high hopes going forward. Bombastic action adventures with ridiculously jumbled fantasy worlds are a guilty pleasure of mine, and this, much like Rage of Bahamut last fall, has all the signs of filling that void.
Should you watch? Yes.

Harubro:
I was particularly reluctant to give this a shot, but I’m sure glad I did. From Passione, the studio that brought us the transcendental flop that was Rail Wars, we have Rokka.

What a vast difference there is in these two shows. Watching Rail Whores, within the first 15 minutes I knew I was going to abandon ship, whereas in the first few minutes of Rokka, I was practically sold after watching Adlet’s fight with the two grizzled warriors, which was one of the best executed fights I’ve seen in a long time as far as animation, choreography, and simple fun with shot angles are concerned. As Yata mentioned, the setting is somewhat novel, too. It looks as though this pilot is set in a strange alter-world take on Tenochtitlan. I really dig this world, and it makes me curious just how this show intends to build upon this rather ambitious setting. Yeah, I said it. This show is ambitious, probably the most of any show airing this season. It’s got a very confident air about it, much like its protagonist Adlet, and I can get behind that.

Knowing Passione, I can only hope this show doesn’t stray down the unnecessary fanservice path like its predecessor, because I really want this show to work, and work well. It’s shown some signs of going there, but perhaps those moments will be sparse throughout the series. I can only hope, right?
Should you watch? Yes, just bear through the infodump hell as we did.

SHIMONETA: A BORING WORLD WHERE THE CONCEPT OF DIRTY JOKES DOESN’T EXIST

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Nichibros did panty hats better.

Summary: Read the title. Protagonist Tanukichi Okuma graduates from a school with the lowest morality rate to Tokioka, an academy with one of the highest. Tanukichi specifically wants to impress the student council president Anna, who conveniently places him with the task of unmasking Blue Snow, a morality terrorist whom he met earlier and apparently also attends Tokioka in secret. Joke’s on him though; Vice President Ayame Kajo reveals herself to Tanukichi as Blue Snow, hoping because his father was a morality terrorist, he’ll also be willing to unleash mayhem upon Japan as a member of her new morality terrorism team, SOX.

Yatahaze:
You know what I hate? I hate shows that have so much potential but completely squander all of it. You know what I want to hate? Shows that have almost no potential but actually make something out of it. Know what I’m utterly flabbergasted towards? Shows that are somehow simultaneously both of these things, such as Shimoneta.

On one hand, there’s nothing constructive here. For a concept so loaded, Shimoneta just wants to fuck around and shout obscenities all day instead of directly opposing the oppressive government in a reasonable way. And much like last season’s Yamada and the Seven Witches, this student council seems like it will become a plot device of unrealistic influence. Sketchy doesn’t even begin to describe Shimoneta’s status quo world. There’s a part in the beginning of this episode where a woman fakes being molested on a train in order to try and get money out of an unsuspecting victim (and when that fails, a second one). That would be absolutely vile writing in any other scenario, but for this world, it makes a hint of sense. It doesn’t stop there, either. People have little devices on their necks which relay if your vocal chords moved in a way necessary to say a prohibited word. Kids use euphemisms and guess about sexual things they’re completely ignorant about, à la “I heard if you put on girls’ underwear, your cucumber disappears.” It’s those little details that make the setting so hopelessly backwards that it’s easy to detach yourself from any heavy questions the show wants to address and just…watch the completely vulgar mindless entertainment Shimoneta is. It’s like…Maximum The Hormone: The Anime.

It doesn’t even look that great. The art is dull and the animation quality is subpar. The music left no impression on me. With no standout production qualities, the most immediate reaction I’m left with after Shimoneta’s pilot is “wow, this is super dumb, I’ll never admit to liking this and…wait, did I just say I liked this?”

Yeah, for all its downright stupidity, I can get behind this one for the time being. I seriously doubt Shimoneta will last the long haul (or even the short one), as all of its characters are cookie cutter at best and obnoxious at worst, and the setting will likely just be a casually accepted excuse to act rambunctious rather than a thematic point with a greater message, but I won’t deny I legitimately laughed a few times during this pilot. I’m not proud of that, but what the hell. Fuck it.
Should you watch? Haha. No. But I will, crazy bastard I am.

Harubro:
Man, this show was stupid.

There’s just no other word for it, Shimoneta is just plain stupid. A part of me wants to pretend I never even saw this, but another part of me wants this stupid show to work the way last season’s stupid show (Food Whores, if you’re curious) worked, and it just may? How?

Because J.C. Staff, the studio behind this stupid show is also behind Food Whores, and they somehow made that show work. Mind you, though, Food Whores has a much more solid premise than this. It shows, too, because one way or another, this show will get a laugh out of you, whether it’s out of utter disgust or out of actual appreciation of the barrage of dirty jokes. There’s this pervasive overtone of inane immaturity all throughout this show from the moment it starts, up until the last second, and it doesn’t stop. The dialogue was blah, as are most other artistic elements of the show. It’s really living off of the dirty joke thing, so I don’t foresee me sticking around with this the way I did with Food Whores. I’m sticking around for one more episode, and that’s probably gonna be it for Shimoneta.
Should you watch? Hell no.

SNOW WHITE WITH THE RED HAIR (AKAGAMI NO SHIRAYUKI-HIME)

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“you have strange hair,” said the young man with fucking white hair

 Summary: Shirayuki is a young content herbalist in the kingdom of Tanbarun with one striking visual feature: her bright red hair. When Tanbarun’s Prince Raji sends a day’s notice that she is to stop her work and become his concubine, she cuts her hair that he finds attractive off and escapes across the border to the kingdom of Clarines, where she meets a trio of friends outside an abandoned house in the woods. When a basket of poisoned apples is delivered and Zen, one of her new companions, eats one, they decide to go back to Tanbarun for the antidote, only for it to turn out that Zen’s poison tolerance is rather high so he’s alright…and that he’s the Prince of Clarines.

Yatahaze:
On the story end, Snow White With The Red Hair is pretty boilerplate. Prince Raji is a joke of a character, Shirayuki is that kind of slow shoujo-y lovestruck, and so far Zen might as well be the most perfect man on the planet, minus some – you guessed it, comic relief at his expense. Their interactions are smooth, aided by some fleshed out scriptwriting and voice acting, but as far as story and history go, these characters are still pretty dull. Dull doesn’t always mean bad; Shirayuki’s dullness works in her favor, otherwise being a normal citizen of Tanbarun up until this little adventure, and she’s confident in and reliable with her skills as an herbalist. It’s a pleasant change to see the female protagonist of a fantasy shoujo not completely helpless to everything going on around her. The few scenes we see of Zen and his comrades Mitsuhide and Kiki prove they have a nice pre-established chemistry, one that goes well with Shirayuki’s otherwise reservedness. While it’s undeniably reminiscent of last fall’s Yona of the Dawn and spring 2014’s The World Is Still Beautiful in what I can only assume is an ongoing fantasy shoujo trend over in Japan, it also has good enough writing to already stand on its own two feet as better than those two titles.

Aside from the overall more confident first episode, I say that with the expectation that this show’s absolutely fantastic visual production will continue. Granted those other shows were both done by smaller studios and this is getting produced by powerhouse Studio Bones, but part of what makes a good shoujo is visual attractiveness on all sides, and this one has it in spades, not just with character design but also with the scenery. While it’s a slow first episode, it’s also not a stereotypically shoujo-y type of slow. With getting the gang together out of the way, the OP hinted at the possibility of Shirayuki moving to Clarines and continuing her job there, which is probably the best path this show could go on. Snow White With The Red Hair was a hyped show this season for a reason; even though it’s playing within the confines of its genres, it’s doing so confidently and without messing a step.
Should you watch? Yes.

Harubro:
Yep, this is it. This is the one. Snow White with the Red Hair featured what was by a very wide margin, my favorite pilot for this season.

Though perhaps the story did lack a bit of oomph, almost everything else was executed well for this show. A couple lines of forced exposition notwithstanding, the dialogue between the various characters felt natural, aided by some top-notch voice acting, of course. The characters’ interactions with one another in this show was probably the most realistic that I’ve seen from a show thus far this summer. However, the most outstanding aspect was definitely those wonderful Studio Bones visuals. The scenery, the art style, the attention paid to articulating the characters lip flaps (watch the part where Raj gets confronted by Zen and you’ll see), to even Zen’s look to Shirayuki at the end of the confrontation where you can tell he’s still not feeling well, this show just killed it all.

Hell, just the fact that this is a Bones show is practically enough justification by itself to watch this, but the fact that this was probably the most well-rounded pilot to air this season is just an added bonus. Plus, I’m always a sucker for these fantastical shoujo-y adventures. I want more, now.
Should you watch?: Oh yeah.

USHIO AND TORA

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when you said it’d be a 90’s reboot about a kid and his tiger, I was kind of hoping for Calvin & Hobbes, but alright

Summary: Ushio Aotsuki lives at a shrine with his father, and if they’re not bickering, it means Dad just plain isn’t around. During one such instance, Ushio fails at remembering his father’s instructions for chores and ends up discovering a hidden door in the floor of their shed, which of course, being the haphazard teen shounen protagonist he is, he opens, meeting a bitter demon stuck to the basement wall with a magical spear. Ushio initially knows enough to leave him down there, bound to the wall, but when he starts seeing monsters floating around, he goes to question the demon, who he dubs Tora. Tora explains Ushio would need his help to defeat the monsters, so he hesitantly agrees, gaining the power within the legendary spear as he pulls it out.

Yatahaze:
So uh, this show is very 90’s. Veeeeeeery 90’s. It’s got all the staples of a 90’s shounen anime, from the boxier character designs to the silly voice acting and the idea that, if you try hard enough, maybe the act of eating fast can be its own punch line.

Speaking of punch lines, both this show and last season’s Punch Line were done by studio MAPPA, apparently content with dropping in quality now. That’s not to say Ushio and Tora is bad, per se. If the summary makes it sound like it’d be your thing, you’ll love it, but if it’s not, you’re not gonna care for this too much. And if you’re in the middle gray area after this pilot like I am, just ask yourself the following: will I actually care about this for another 38 episodes? ‘Cause that’s how many this show will get. It wasn’t a total waste of my time, and had it shown a little more originality or flair, I might be interested in coming back for more, but with that much time to fill and an already ill-received OVA from a few decades ago as its only animated predecessor, I don’t have enough faith that Ushio and Tora will raise its bar in a significant enough manner to maintain my interest.
Should you watch?: If you’re huge into 90’s style shows, sure. Otherwise, nah.

WORKING!!! (SEASON 3)

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How this restaurant hasn’t exploded by now is beyond us.

Summary: The third season of A-1 Pictures’ popular 4-koma-adapted workplace comedy Working.

Yatahaze:
Working is a weird show. I mean that in the literal sense that to someone unfamiliar with anime, the stereotypes and almost completely static oddball characters are, for lack of a better word, weird. There’s a girl so afraid of men she punches any of them who dare to approach her, a girl who carries a sword around the restaurant just in case anyone threatens her relationship with the place’s delinquent manager, a guy who appears completely harmless but blackmails literally every person in the place at some point, a girl who lives in the restaurant attic hoping for the boss to adopt her, and a boy obsessed with small things…including small children.

And he thinks he’s the most normal one there.

Working is also weird because with all of that initial stupidity, there isn’t much to do but drag those jokes into the ground. And believe me, it does. This season’s pilot was a microcosm of Working’s most long-running and least funny jokes, but for some reason, it otherwise actually…well…works.

Sure, the cast gets larger as the series continues and there are small overarching plot threads that help give the show the illusion that it’s actually going somewhere, but it also doesn’t abandon its 4-koma (think newspaper comic) roots, where simple skits and character preservation take priority. What happens in Working is pretty predictable once you get a handle for it. It’s not a show I come back to because it surprises me or makes me uncontrollably laugh. No, Working is popcorn at its best. I don’t need any real concern for the characters; their only goal is to entertain, and yes, while that can get old, for some reason, Working just…hasn’t. Even though season 3’s pilot is less impressive than the show usually is, my guess is it’s just getting everyone familiarized with its cast again and the real silly things will pick up next week. Like most 4-koma, shows adapted from them like this have undeniable hits and misses, but with Working’s mostly hit-laden track record, I’m not too worried.
Should you watch? Sure, if you’ve seen the two previous seasons.

Harubro:
Takanashi obsessing over tiny things? Check.
Poplar being short and adorable? Check.
Inami panicking at this sight of a guy? Check.
Satou being a boss ass mofo? Check.
Souma still being a smarmy demi-jerk? Cheeeeeck.
Todoroki’s still got that sword. Check there.
Kyouko being the best lazy boss ever? Check.
Yamada (either one) still making a mess of things? Check.

The Wagnaria crew, is back, baby.

Another old favorite returns this year, and the series making its glorious return is Working!!, the endearingly goofy 4-koma workplace comedy. I didn’t realize that I actually missed this show until I started watching, and Working didn’t skip a beat. It picks up right where we left off from the last two seasons, refreshing us on the characters and gags we’ve seen throughout this series’ run. It’s still the same old show, but we just have more antics to behold.

I’m eagerly looking forward to see what this show’s got up its sleeve.
Should you watch? If you’ve seen the first two seasons, yes. Otherwise you may get a little lost.

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2 comments

  1. WOOO MUTHA FUCKIN SCHOOL GIRLS

    Also, Kangoku Gakuen is great as a manga. Yes, very sexual, but I find it more hilarious than boner-inducing. I haven’t seen it yet, so I don’t know how it compares, but I freaking love the contrast between facial expression/tone and the actual dialogue.

    Like

    1. I can’t say for sure how true of an adaptation it is, but that sounds like what it felt like in animated form too. lol

      I’ve seen talk a few places that some people even think it works better as an anime than a manga. If you find the manga hilarious, I’d definitely recommend giving the anime a shot.
      – Yata

      Liked by 1 person

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