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Aug 20

Summer ’13 Anime Season Picks

This guy. This. Freaking. Guy.

Its been a while. Near enough half a year since I lamented the Winter season only having a few alright shows in Love Live and ZKC The Unlimited. In that time Spring has been and gone, and over the next few weeks I’ll be reviewing some of the stuff I watched then, like Gargantia and Valvrave. Before that though, I wanna talk about the current season. Having sat through pretty much every first episode it had to offer, I narrowed it down to five shows I considered worth pursuing, so lets talk about those.

Danganronpa

A special school where the best of the best, the elite among the elite are all sent to, along with one ultra lucky kid chosen at random. Fear not though, this is no generic slice of life show, as the school is little more than a facade for what is essentially a prison. The students are given ample supplies to live their lives within the walls forever, or a chance to be free. But to be let out, they have to kill one of their fellow classmates.

Add to this an eccentric stuffed animal for a villain in the form of Monobear, whom is willing to do whatever it takes to have the kids turn upon each other, and a varied cast, certainly in terms of designs, along with some great animation and music, and you’ve got all the elements for a great show. Whether it lives up to that reputation or not remains to be seen, but certainly people who’ve played the game it’s based on have been singing its praises.

Symphogear G

Okay, I’m biased here, as I’ve seen the first season, and liked it enough to make it my tenth best of last year. But it never seemed like the kind of show to get a sequel. The plot left it open enough (just), but everything important had been resolved. There was nowhere really to go. As such, the majority of the opening feels like desperate flailing to establish why the show’s even continuing, with another Gungnir appearing as they try to protect some important artifact.

If you’ve seen the original, you’ll have an idea of what’s coming. Solid musical numbers, a whole lotta explosions, more interesting Noise designs, all wrapped up with decent enough animation. If you’ve not seen the original, you should still be fine as it doesn’t require much prior knowledge, and you can pick it up along the way. It’ll all hinge on how good the plot is, which was both a strength and weakness of the original…

The World God Only Knows III

Sequel bias strikes again. The second season seemed to definitively end all hopes of a third, with Keima reaching some kind of resolution and the show pointing to all the conquests he went on to do in the manga and going “naaaah”. But fear not, a few years and OVAs later and TWGOK has returned. With actual, proper plot. Talk about a godsend.

Past the phase of making girls fall in love with him to fill the emptiness in their hearts so a loose soul that had resided there could be caught by moe demons and returned to hell (yes, really), this season addresses just why there’re loose souls in the first place and introduces Goddesses whom reside in some of the prior girls, noticeable by their ability to remember Keima making moves on them. Cue him trying to woo half a dozen girls simultaneously to bring out the Goddesses inside each.

Don’t worry, I’ve probably made that sound way more perverse than it actually is. It’s light-hearted comedy that parodies romance games that Japan loves oh so much, and with another brilliant opening, character development for girls left by the wayside like Tenri and Kanon, and, well, actual plot, meaning there’ll be some kind of resolution, and you’ve got the best season of this to date. It’s certainly hooked me far more than the original two.

Silver Spoon

Does noitaminA ring a bell? One of anime’s finest hour-long slots, its paid host to a ton of classics, like Nodame Cantibile, Tatami Galaxy, Usagi Drop, and more recently, Psycho-Pass, one of 2012’s best series. Then it started showing reruns for a season. But now its back with Silver Spoon, a show based on the manga by Hiromu Arakawa. Who’s also known as the creator of Fullmetal Alchemist.

So, the show itself. Set in an agricultural school (which is instant brownie points from someone who spent their first decade growing up on a farm), we watch an urban kid used to traditional schools try to adapt and survive in the workaday environment. There’s no pandering to denominators here either, the show’s all about its world and story, making smart observations and good comedy that isn’t lolrandom or lolexaggeration that so many shows rely on.

To be honest, this doesn’t seem like it’ll be an amazing 10/10 show, but it’s not gonna let you down either. If you want a reliable show you can just sit down and enjoy each week, this is the one for you.

Gatchaman Crowds

Gatcha-what? If you were aware of the now 40-year-old Gatchaman series, more power to you. I wasn’t, so have no idea how this fits in, or even if it’s in the same universe. Seemingly random people are approached and have their the embodiment of their souls turned into a planner, which they can use to communicate with other Gatchamen. They also use them to transform into mechs which fight the Noise.

At least that’s how it begins. Each new episode seems to spin the world on its head, with our very open-minded lead instead befriending the Noise, and the conflicts instead changing to the minor everyday crises of the world which some girl and her version of Facebook are trying to solve (think how the app in Summer Wars worked and you’re off to a good start).

What you will notice though is how damn stylish this show is. It looks good. Really good. I’d wager money on either this or the returning Kyousogiga (which this show draws a lot of inspiration from artwise, I swear) being the best looker of the season. Sadly this does seem to have come at some expense of character, although the plot necessitates a lot of them being swept up in the lead girls pace so unable to really develop themselves. But they’re interesting enough and I hope will get time to shine, and when combined with the interest setting and aforementioned visuals, you’ve got a series very much worth watching.

And there ya go. These are the five I’ll definitely be watching (along with Titan and Railgun from Spring), and if I get some free time I might even add a few more. Kyoani’s Free seemed decent enough, Gen’ei wo Kakeru Taiyou another stylistic show with an interesting world, and Kiniro Mosaic because it’s too damn cute. I’ll also be updating this at least once a week, so look out for reviews of Spring stuff I watched and one on Kamen Rider Wizard when that finishes. Until then, take care y’all.