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Jul 10

Summer Anime 2016 First Episode Impressions – Part 2

Hallow Be Thy Name

Hallow Be Thy Name

More? You want more? Well luckily for you, there is plenty more to come in this Summer season. Including the return of D.Gray-Maaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!

Okay, okay, I’m good. Probably.

We’ve also got a bunch of shorts for all your three minute fixes, a couple of recognisable names and some of the most surreal stuff I’ve seen from Japan. Like, stuff I never expect to see ever again as long as I live. What could it be? Let’s find out…

Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan

The first of this season’s shorts, Psi clocks in at just over four minutes, though unlike many other similar length shows it doesn’t go for a full-blown opening to help while away the time. Which helped ensure what little opening there was was short and sweet.

Anyway, the show revolves around a pink haired kid who has nigh-on every ESP ability you can think of. What’s more, he had an incredibly rapid upbringing, being able to talk at two weeks, walk at one month and do household chores within a year. And clearly, with such an array of powers, he’s a miserable so and so because he can’t be surprised or other similarly benign reasons.

The rest of the show focuses on his oddball parents, who started off madly in love with each other but are now just plain mad at each other. They still live together though, and don’t seem to be fazed by the slightest in their extraordinary child. Even when he was born, they just rolled with it, which is a little weird.

So yeah, it’s basically a comedy with a psychic kid. The animation’s perfectly fine, and if you find taking the most insane of events with a straight face your idea of hilarious, you’ll love this. Me? Naaaaah. It’s not a badly made show, it’s just also not for me in the slightest.

DROPPED

Puzzle & Dragons Cross

Another one of those video game adaptations. Except this goes one better, as it’s a mobile game adaptation! Now I’ve not played Puzzles & Dragons, but I’m willing to bet a match-3 puzzler isn’t plot heavy. It shouldn’t come as any surprise then that Ace, the lead of the show, pretty much fits the bill as kid anime protagonist. Well, okay, he’s not stupid, but he ain’t exactly memorable though.

He’s special because he can see Drops, which represent the energy of the world… I think. He watches on as a bunch gather in one place and fuse into one angry pissed off dragon (yep, lots of dragons, funnily enough). Luckily, there’s a Dragon Caller called Lance (hi Pokémon) in town, who uses his beasties to neutralise the threat after the army does a pretty miserable job. And oh boy Ace doesn’t like Lance for… some reason…

There’s also another plot in this episode where loads of people are hunting for this random egg, which Ace ends up finding and hatching after it calls out to him, but that just looks like it’ll be a silly mascot character. Who knows. Speaking of characters, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Ace’s mother, who seemed to be fairly on the ball and making standard mom humour jokes which was cool.

Overall, this ain’t a bad show, as the kid animation works and no doubt he’ll capt-tame lots of Pok-Dragons. Yes. But as the one fight in the show lacked any kind of depth, I just don’t see this becoming anything worthwhile.

DROPPED

Bananya

3 minutes. Just enough time to sit here, realise I don’t have a clue what the fuck I’m watching, and return to conscious thought just in time for the credits.

This is a show. About bananas. Who are cats.

Watch the bananya jump around and flail at things. Listen to the guy who sounds like he’s narrating a preschooler’s nature documentary. Marvel at the very simple art style which… okay, I mean it works, but c’mon.

Yes, bananya looks adorable. I could also have gotten the same “that’s neat” reaction off a Tumblr post. Basically what I’m saying is WHY IS THIS A THING THAT EXISTS?

DROPPED

New Game!

I’ve seen some of the more weab peeps I follow online get hyped for New Game, and considering it’s kinda like last year’s Shirobako but with the theme being video games instead of anime, I can see why. Personally, I wasn’t sure whether it’d be another piece of cutesy fluff or a somewhat serious look at the industry, and while it may be mostly the former… it’s still pretty alright.

Aoba is the lead girl, an 18 year old fresh out of highschool and landing a job as an artist at Eagle Jump, who made the very game that inspired her to work in the industry. She looks several years younger though, something the rest of the cast are quick to point out. Though pot kettle black comes to mind, as half of the staff feel like they could fit in just fine in any old highschool anime…

Speaking of that lot, we meet the various personalities that work for the company throughout the episode, and while some are more on the “oh boy anime” end of the spectrum, they’re all pretty passionate and energetic about what they do. And while there’s the rare flash of fanservice, the show remembers to keep itself in check. Honestly, I was more distracted by trying to figure out why the entire company is female. Would it be a legit company policy… or just an anime doing what an anime does.

What is certainly anime is the artstyle. It’s all very cutesy, but that works pretty well for the show. I also loved how the desktops they were working on looked like actual desktops people were working on. That kind of pleasant surprise and attention to detail describes the show pretty well, and while it lacked that little extra spark to make it a must see, this was still an enjoyable enough experience to make it to my reserve list.

POSSIBLY

Show By Rock!! Short!!

This is a spinoff series of Show By Rock, an anime that I must admit I’ve never heard of. So I’m guessing it didn’t have much of an impact. It revolves around some random girl band comprised of anime-human hybrids which get interviewed by… by… whatever that thing on the right is.

Who then proceeds to ogle their days. What. Also, there’s a fanservice fueled adbreak. Double what. To compound all of that, the entire band is made up of the usual anime personality gambit, and the animation is the usual overload of colour that makes it all blur together into one meaningless blob. Kinda like this show in general.

Sure, it’s only 3 minutes, but even then I couldn’t wait for this to end. And I mean, if this is meant to try and entice people back to watch the main show… it fails to build any interest in that too. Stick to Love Live and Macross, peeps.

DROPPED

Amaama to Inazuma

Every few years you get a show in the Yotsuba mould that I can’t help but smile along with. Usagi Drop is the most well-known one, and there’s also Barakamon (which is getting a prequel this season, stay tuned to a future part for that one), and now we have Amaama to Inzauma sitting alongside those.

We have a single dad whose wife passed away half a year ago, and their daughter, who seems to be somewhere between 4 and 6, at that magical age where the world is a playground and certain concepts (like death) just don’t quite click.

The father is trying his best as a maths teacher, and clearly has a strong bond with his daughter, but he still finds himself lacking in some areas, especially when it comes to cooking. One event leads to another, and the episode culminates with him going to a restaurant that one of his pupils works at, where she tries her hardest to make a delicious meal for the two of them despite having never ran the place all on her lonesome before.

Basically, it’s a heartwarming show full of earnest, hardworking and loving people who do their best for those they care about, and goshdarnit I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff. The animation isn’t amazing but it more than gets the job done, and I enjoyed the writing and storytelling throughout too. In a world dominated by shōnen and highschool clubs, it’s always awesome to see shows like this, and I can’t wait to see more.

KEEPER

D.Gray-Man Hallow

So. Here we are. D.Gray-Man. This is, without a doubt, my favourite manga. I love the characters, the art, the sombre tone… everything about it is beyond compare. But on the flipside, I never really got into the anime adaptation, as I felt it lacked the heart and soul of Hoshino’s work. So to see more D.Gray anime is both a blessing and a curse.

To get the differences out of the way, I have no problems with any of the new voice actors, and I mostly prefer the up to date art style of Hallow. The one exception to that is Miranda Lotto, who looks a good decade younger than the worn down middle-aged women she’s supposed to be.

Anyway, let’s talk about the show itself. It opens up with a fight between Exorcists (the good guys) and some random enemy mooks who they take out with little difficulty, as the show gives you a brief blurb to explain the ongoing war and why they’re now moving to an all-new headquarters. You get to see all the characters I know and love before being thrown straight back into the plot with the return of lead kid Allen’s master.

Writing wise then, it’s as great as ever. But… maybe it was just me, but the animation seemed really… not great. There were a lot of missing inbetweens, especially in that opening fight scene, and add in plenty of jerky moments and… honestly, it felt unfinished. A shame too, as close-ups on the characters looked great. So I guess my advice is to wait until the BluRays so you can see this show at it’s best, because this… isn’t that.

POSSIBLY

Taboo Tattoo

Taboo Tattoo is another one of those “well, I’ve heard of it, but I’ve no clue what it’s about” shows. Fighting, as it turns out. And strength. And justice! And, somewhat obviously, tattoos. Turns out those tats were part of an American military project as they give people superhuman strength and speed, as well as a few other neat abilities. Each tattoo also has a different “trigger”, or power source to be more accurate, and somewhat inevitably those who have them end up fighting a bunch.

Like our lead kid, who gets given one by some random dude on the street he saves (see, justice), which in turn brings him to the attention of a couple of American officials trying to reclaim all the tattoos that went abroad illegally. Which leads to some cool as shit looking fights. But in an added twist, the lead’s tattoo is a super special triggerless one and what do you mean that’s obvious?

Animation wise, JC Staff have done a good job here, and it seems like there’s a bunch more fighters coming for them to animate slugging it out. My only real worry there is that… well, they’re all female. Don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t a lick of that in this episode (well, I guess there was a bit where they went “man, this character’s kinda catlike” but that was it), but it’s still a mild cause for concern. Not enough to stop me watching though, as I enjoyed the characters and writing more than enough to invest.

KEEPER

Onara Gorou

Back to the 3 minute shorts, with a show that reeks of shite. Because it’s all about farts! No. Seriously. The main character is a spirit that dwells in fart gas. It tells us how farts are made. This reduces some delinquent kids to tears.

Yeah. What else? Well, the kind of pencil shading they used on the characters was cool. The teachers were nice and accommodating. The idols who sang the 30 second ending song seemed cute. The… the…

Fuck it, man. Between this and Bananya I have no clue what’s happening anymore. Let’s just move on to the next show and pretend this never happened.

DROPPED

Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu

The final short of this part, and it’s all about fujoshi! Sorry, fudanshi. Is there really a difference? Anyway, this is about a dude who reads boys love stuff. But he ain’t gay! There’s the joke.

Of course, society being society, some people look at him pretty weirdly for being into this stuff, and all he wants is to find a friend with the same BL interests. Oh, and his school friend apparently gets groped multiple times a month? Yeah, that one threw me too.

The animations alright I guess, but to be honest, if I was really after a show kinda like this, I’d go watch Lovele-oh god did I almost say that abort ABORT

DROPPED

Servamp

You can probably guess what this one’s about based off the title for once. I’ll give you a moment. Ready? Yep, it’s about a vampire who’s also a servant. Man, I wish all anime names made this much sense. Our lead kid (the human) is pretty much a guy who shoulders all responsibilities because he’s the only one willing to do it, which leads to everyone relying and letting him do it and so the cycle continues. That personality means that when he sees a stray cat in the street, he has to take it in.

But surprise, the cat’s actually a vampire! He turns into a cat while in sunlight which… I guess is better than sparkling. We also learn he’s a lazy git who hasn’t sucked blood for centuries, making him pretty weak. But that all changes when he’s attacked (for some reason) by another vampire, forcing him to taste the lead kid’s blood and make a contract with him in the process.

And while that laziness is a massive irritant and not at all fun to watch, the rest of the show is kinda decent. Sure, the screamo opening is annoying and the lead villain seems to be a random unguided psycho, but the animation was pretty serviceable and there’s some potential for cool fights down the road. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see this becoming anything special, but it’s not a total lost cause.

UNLIKELY

Cheer Danshi!!

Cheerleading! Did you just imagine cute girls in skirts and pom poms? Well, I’m afraid that ain’t how this show rolls. Cheer Boys is about a couple of school friends forming an all-male cheerleader club. And that’s something cool and progressive I can get behind.

The story starts a lil bit before that, as son of dojo owners Haruki has almost recovered from a shoulder injury, but wants no more to do with judo. After he ends up quitting, his best friend coerces him into doing his family’s legacy instead, which is, surprise surprise, cheerleading. While Haru is initially reluctant by this somewhat offball change, by the end of the episode you can see him warming to the idea.

This first episode ends up being more about setting the scene and introducing the initial club members rather than them actually performing, but I can already see a ton of potential for storytelling, especially when Haru’s family catch wind of it all. The music is also pretty good in this show, with a few standout songs at key moments.

My main worry comes from the rest of the support cast. The third member, also introduced in this episode, is more than a bit ridiculous, and based off the ending there’s a whole ton more people coming, making me worry about whether the show will avoid tropes and losing focus. I’m still fairly confident it’ll turn out alright, so assuming people don’t crap on it, I’ll be making time for this later in the season.

POSSIBLY

Masou Gakuen HxH

The last show of this part and it’s this old chestnut. It’s been a while since I’ve seen one of these. In earlier seasons they seemed a lot more common, but as of late you could go whole seasons without one. I guess I hoped this fad had ended. But I was wrong, so here’s fanservice pervert bullshit show number whatever.

Let’s cut to the chase. See those three girls above? Know how they get the energy source for those exoskeletons they’re wearing recharged? The lead dude fondles them up all over. And off course, with this airing on TV there’s also censorship for the ultra-lewd shit which makes you wonder why you’d even air a show like this.

It’s not all awful, the enemy designs aren’t too shabby, the backstory about how the lead kid was rejected by his own family but has been called back after many years is mildly intriguing, and some of the fight scenes were neat.

But when the rest of the show is trash tier, I ain’t gonna play along and look for the small positives. Just go look up porn, or play an adult visual novel, or… fuck. Alternatively, if you’re after a mech show with pretty girls fighting, Macross Delta’s still airing, catch up with that.

DROPPED

Halfway! I wanted this up a little sooner, but goddamn these take a while to fully edit and proofread. Part 3 will be up sometime during the week (with new Fate, Ozmafia and Planetarian, woo), and then Part 4 (the final one) the week after that. And then I’ll cry as I’m already at four keepers and several possiblies I’m really tempted by aaaarrrrgh. See ya around!