Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer 2015 Anime Round-UP

And so we begin what is for me yet another strange anime season. Once again I have no carry-over shows (if I catch up with Precure in time I will have one for the fall but otherwise I think everything is too short) and there were fewer shows I was just interested in trying this season. Just about everything was already on my “well, maybe I’ll look at it” list from before the season started, nothing had a stand out premier that made me try it out through sheer word of mouth. Missing from this list is Durarara!! x 2 SHOU which I will marathon at the end if it sounds like it has more highs than lows but I do not plan to watch this week. The Brain’s Base show Aoharu x Machinegun also doesn’t interest me (a really blatant Ouran High School Host Club rip-off in a survival club? Not my thing). And I am going to get around to the second Knights of Sidonia season when I have time, I’ve just been a bit short of that lately so no impressions on it yet.

Right, to the star of the post!

The transfer student is our boss?! 
The students at Kirishina Corporation Academy’s A-TEC class are special, they’re both hand-chosen students and also employees at Kirishina Corporation and are already working on developing engines in the racing section. But the higher ups are tired of their waste and are determined to cut the budget down and maybe kill the program altogether and have sent their most talented black sheep to do it.
Episodes seen: 3
Okay that should actually have a star symbol in it but I’m too lazy to see how to do that on my computer and an asterisk is close enough. Anyway, this series was vaguely on my radar but the premise sounded like it could be a fun show or a really awkward one very easily so I didn’t try it until I saw a surprising amount of praise for it. It shares a lot of staff with Gundam Build Fighters and I think that’s rather obvious a few episodes in, the humor is similar (although less frequent here) and the tone is very similar, that ambition and passion are what your results great, not just money (assuming that you’re starting from a good place, even if the budget in the show is in trouble the kids still have a way to keep building rockets just like how all of the characters in GBF with access to pilers and paint could eventually build something great). I was a little worried that our “villain” was going to just be a pain the ass after the first episode (or rather, that there was something up his ass) but the show is actually managing it pretty deftly after episode 3. Yes it’s a shame that the kids are having to adjust to so many changes so fast, and really they’re young enough that it’s perfectly understandable that they don’t know how to budget money or time if they’ve never had an example to copy, but it’s clear that Kiryuu is going to try and put A-TEC on a diet first to save it. And that kind of layered conflict is rather compelling, plus it’s one that can work well for one or two cours so I’ll be sticking around for it every week!

C*C is an Aniplex show and can be watched on Crunchyroll and hulu.

The city of Ergastulum is dirty with it’s criminals, cops, and half-crooked cops who call in “handymen” to fix the problems they and the dons can’t do on their own. Nic and Worrick are a team who have no qualms about their lives and almost no interest in what’s outside of them, although they have noticed the hooker Alex who seems to always be nearby their apartment.
Episodes seen: 2
Shows with gritty, battle-hardened characters caught up in conflicts and gunfights isn’t really my thing but I’ve seen tons of praise for the original manga (created by a woman!) on Manga Bookshelf for a while now and while the show isn’t bad, it’s more or less what I expected to be. The setting is a bit flat in how it’s so limited to one city, really just the problems within a certain section of a city, and none of the characters are fresh and exciting type-wise, although the fact that Nic is deaf is a new and very well-realized detail, especially since the story recognizes that his limitation is just one part of who he is and not even the defining part. Honestly I’m less interested in the past of these characters and more with what the story plans on doing with them, will there be a greater conflict to tie this story together or themes? Also not sure how I feel about Alex since she’s a likable character, a hooker “saved” from prostitution and given a bigger role to play, but we’ve seen that idea so many times (and it’s inverse, someone who appears only once to send a message and then vanishes out of the story) and it’s very hard to make that type go from being “the point of view character” to “a main character”. I’ll stick around and see more but it’s mostly because it’s been a while since I’ve watched a story like this and I could use the variety.

Gangsta. is a Funimation show and can be found on their site and hulu, although what day it goes up is a matter of debate.

Gatchama Crowds Insight
It’s as if there never was a break, Hajime and the rest of the Gatchaman continue to be heroes with busy PR lives as they tackle disasters and events ranging from a new member of the team, a visiting alien, and someone who takes a very different view of Rui’s crowds.
Episodes seen: 3
First up, this series not only assumes that you have seen the first season (duh) but that you have seen it recently, I found myself browsing some of the older posts on For Me, In Full bloom and really recommend her write-ups both of the old season and this one, she’s able to see interpretations that I never would have on my own. Also, as fans might remember, the first season had some production issues which means that the last episode had a special “director’s cut” on the DVDs with a bucketload of new information. It’s not streaming sadly (or on the English DVDs, Sentai said they tried to get it but that the copyrights were different which is interesting) but yes, you really need to see that and watch episode 0 as well, if you’re already settling in to watch a sequel to a show you liked why not watch as much as you can!
Moving onto the actual show, when the first season wrapped I was surprised that there would be a sequel since it seemed like all of the main themes and ideas had been sufficiently addressed and yet this sequel feels like a very natural continuation. Hajime is still one of the main focuses, and still acts more as an anthropomorphization of the shows’s themes than a fully fleshed out character, but the show continues to dive into how the other characters view their role as heroes and how the rest of society does as well and not in a “talky” way. I find myself enjoying the episode and then later thinking “ohhhh that’s how those two pieces connected” and those connections are very deliberate. We see how Rui is still having to deal with the community he created and it’s foes, parallels between newbie Gatchaman Tsubasa (she totally is a red ranger) and cynical Joe (it’s so funny how Sugane has almost been cut out at this point even if he’d be the lead or secondary character in practically any other series, I expect him to pop up more again later on) and more. It’s a show that makes me want to write each week since there is so much each and every week. I don’t think I have the time for a full post but there might be a lot of thoughts sneaking into my weekly round-up, or maybe Anime Power Rankings if I can keep up with enough shows to feel like i can vote with sufficient information.

Insight can be found streaming on crunchyroll, no word yet if Sentai will pick up the second season for print distribution but they haven’t made a ton of summer announcements yet anyway.

Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace
Based on the works of Edogawa Ranpo, Kobayashi thinks that life is very boring, colors are muted and even his own parents are nothing more than gray blobs to him. But when he’s caught up in a murder case life finally seems to become interesting for once
Episodes seen: 1
Huh so that’s where Pyscho-Pass (probably) got it’s gruesome body-sculpture episode idea from. In any case, due to Funimation’s free user restrictions I’ve only seen one episode so far and I can’t tell if it was from hearing everyone else’s opinions on the show first or what but, I found this first episode rather dull. The mystery didn’t interest me, there wasn’t enough “hey let’s solve this!” pieces, and the characters are more flat that the actual gray background pictures (I’m also wondering if director Seiji Kishi is actively trying to make his protagonists as girly as possible without having an actual girl). I am going to try one more episode (since I need to talk about the show briefly for my Otakon panel on the noitaminA block) but since it’s almost universally said that episode 2 was worse than 1, I don’t know I’ll make it to episode 3 and beyond.

Ranpo Kitan is a Funimation show and can be found, with a 2-week delay for free viewers, on their website and hulu.

Rokka-Braves of the Six Flowers
As the demon lord rises again, heroes and saints are chosen to subdue the evil before it covers the whole world.
Episodes seen: 3
Well I tried out this show for one reason and which is that, instead of drawing on European or Asian themes for it’s setting and design, it goes with a distinctly Meso-American look and it’s a fun change. So far the plot is a bit slow and the characters practically shout “we came from a light novel, see how our characterization is built through long conversations not action!” but it’s nowhere near offensively bad yet. From what I’ve heard, it’s part of a series but the first book is pretty well-contained so if it continues moving along like this, with characters who might have interesting secrets after all and a good chance at wrapping up satisfyingly, then I guess I’ll stick around.

Rokka can be viewed on Crunchyroll.

Snow White with the Red Hair (Akagami no Shirayuki-hime)
Once upon a time, a prince who got everything he desired wanted the prettiest girl in town for his concubine  the red-haired Shirayuki (Snow White). She didn’t want to do this and although she also didn’t want to leave behind her apothecary, she cut off her as a present and went to live in the next country.
Episodes seen: 2
In the grand scheme of things, both this show and The World is Still Beautiful rank far below  Yona of the Dawn when it comes to “good, recent shoujo fantasy that actually got an anime” which is funny since those two shows both has the same central problem for me, an okay premise but one that got stretched far too long. I’m a bit hesitant that this show will be split-cour since I’m not sure it can actually keep my attention that long, although I do like the adapting staff so fingers crossed. I have mixed feelings art direction as well, the settings are lovely but I find the colors to be a little too garish with highlights that look too bright and almost vinyl like and the character designs really lost some of their delicacy in the translation (see the anime poster and the announcement drawn by the manga-ka, featuring Shirayuki and Zen in the exact same outfits) but the outfits look prettier and more distinct here. It is nice to be less fond of the original manga since it means I can enjoy the adaptive changes a bit more but again, while I’ll most likely watch the series to the end I don’t think I’m going to fall in love with it. Both Akagami and Still Beautiful have “reactionary” plots, heroine is going about her day and then suddenly something happens to her and she has to quickly work her way out. Shirayuki and Nike are resourceful young ladies but since they end up so unprepared in these situations they often need outside help which makes them feel “weak”, we don’t often see them completely pull themselves out a situation by themselves the way a shonen hero might. Yona had more dynamic plots, Yona would go out and then try to change something of her own accord with a plan and no need for back-up because her back-up was already with her and letting her have that chance (which is also a chance to succeed) makes her seem much “stronger”. And that is a conscientious choice in writing, whether you throw a character into a situation or if they walk bolding into one and I’m not sure that Studio Bones can change that here, no matter how much adapting they do.

Akagami is a Funimation show and can be found on their site and hulu. 

Anything I missed? Well, I might give Castle Town Dandelion a chance at some point or maybe Charlotte but only maybe, honestly even getting this many series felt like I was trying harder than usual to like something. At this point I have one Sunday show (kinda, Gangsta.’s schedule has been weird so far), Akagami for Monday, maybe Kitan on Thursday, C*C on Friday, and then Insight and Rokka on Saturday which makes for a horribly boring schedule. I’m having to cut out some of my usual anime-watching time (I kinda have less of a “lunch” at my new work) but I guess it’s time to hit the backlog again!