2013 Summer Anime

It’s been over several weeks since the start of the new anime season in Japan, so a lot of the shows are pretty far along.  It’s a little late, but here are some reviews of current properties if you haven’t started watching yet and need a helping hand trying to pick what to watch.  They’re not in any specific order:

Kiniro no Mosaic – when it was first announced, I was somewhat interested in this title, but after watching the first episode, the inevitable end was fairly obvious. The Japanese character being heavily Westernized and the foreign character being well-versed in Japanese culture schtick has been done numerous times before, but usually as an aside, not as a core interaction device. I’m sure we won’t see anything new this time around. The character design is cute and the character animation is above average. The backgrounds are very good. By nature of two of the characters being from England, the English language is naturally going to be encountered. They got reasonably close grammatically, though it is still a little “Speed Racer” awkward. The thing that ruins it is the accenting of words within the sentences is all off. At least it will probably be a somewhat entertaining ride.  B-

Root – I have top  say I was pretty let down, I was looking forward to this, but it fell pretty flat for me. It isn’t terrible, it looks nice and can be entertaining, but the gags and humor are a little weak. Yes, the English is bad, although correct. But that’s something I’m used to and expect, although there has been a rare case of native English voices, but the script they read from is filled with odd english. It just occurred to me, they really should be speaking the Queens English. Wonder what that would sound like! C+

Uchouten Kazoku (The Eccentric Family) – the story is interesting. They really cheaped-out and cheated on the backgrounds on this one. It looks like they just ran someone’s Kyoto sightseeing pictures through a Photoshop filter, unlike the obviously photo-based backgrounds in Tsuritama that were at least more “graphic” than “filtered” looking. At least when it comes to someplace I’ve actually been in Kyoto, I can say that it actually looks and feels like how it’s being represented. The character design is by the guy who did Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei, so I can’t really say I like it. I think the part that will hold a lot of my interest will be the character interactions, since the characters appear to be written as not being specifically good nor evil, though still having deeply held motivations. The one thing I thought was funny was the random bicyclist incident in a setting cut in the first episode. Anyone who has been to the Kansai region should recognize the random pedestrian action and haphazard cycling. I remember a wide sidewalk in Osaka with two marked lanes for two directions of bicycle traffic and neither the pedestrians nor the bicycles were in their designated areas, nor going in the marked directions – totally opposite of “walk left” Tokyo. I digress. It seems that someone on the staff was in Kyoto longer than just the several days it took to take all the reference photos. This is one of the better properties this season. B

Root – this has been one of the better shows this season for me. I like the Japanese mythology use. The art while not quite as lavish as some other PA Works stuff is still good and has a strong sense of place. Undecided on the character art. The story is interesting and refreshing break from the studios previous bent on growing up/coming of age school girl stuff. B+

Tokurei Sochi Dantai Stella Jogakuin Koutouka Shiikyuubu (Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3) – I was really looking forward to this one, but after seeing the first episode, I was ready to give up. The animation quality is average, and the backgrounds are kid’s show grade. The airsoft gun scale varies a lot from cut to cut, and it’s pretty obvious that the key animator never handled the hardware and was working purely off of pictures. The upper receiver and carrying handle of an M-4 being a single box with a hole in it as opposed to a cylinder with a loop on it makes this clear. The airsoft foley was not terrible, but the 50AE Desert Eagle was not even close. In the third episode when they go to a tournament along a road with a set of powerlines alongside it, the utility poles are simple “T”s and the electrical lines are straight lines without even sag. This is Gainax? Where are the anally detailed transformers, buses, jumpers, and fusible links I’m used to seeing on Gainax powerline shots? Well, think Medaka-Box Gainax and not Evangelion or FLCL Gainax (this is not your father’s Gainax?). Characters are pretty good about keeping their eye-pro on, but terrible at keeping their fingers out of the trigger guard. Darn. I was really hoping I’d like this one. The whole “Zen of airsoft” thing was laughable, and anyone who has touched a 5-en coin and a 6mm airsoft pellet will know that the two are physically incompatible. I’ll watch it through to the end, but have no high expectations for it. C-

root – from the outset when it was first announced I was somewhat dubious of this. Not sure why since an airsoft gun show with girls concept is hardly as outrageous as the anthropomorphized girls as guns from a few seasons back, and I found that one ok. This one is breaking absolutely no new ground. Perhaps because it’s too close to being a real setting and doesn’t have any outrageous elements like the girls as gun, or girl’s tank schools? They tried introducing the hallucination element, but don’t know where that went. And it looks like they tried to pull a Gainax by doing some B&W sketch scenes, but this show is a pale image. I’m still watching, but it’s getting dangerously close to ponderous. C

Genshiken Nidaime – this second television series and fourth iteration of the property has yet another crew and studio. Although the production values are a lot better than I remember the past works as being, I can’t get past the feeling that I’m watching characters from FMA-Brotherhood cosplaying as Genshiken characters. The animation quality is very good, and the backgrounds are very good. Like the original manga, there are a lot of minute details in the backgrounds that really make the work come alive with realism. Like virtually all Japanese properties that contain English dialogue, they really should have gotten a native English speaker to go over the script beforehand. This one is even more indecipherable and painful to hear than Kinmoza! A-

root – while I missed a bunch of intervening episodes, so it’s a little confusing with new characters, but you catch on fast. Like previous seasons, it’s a lot of fun with lots of inside otaku jokes. It does get into fujoushi since almost all the current members of Genshiken are now girls. Anyway, still lots of fun. A

Love Lab – in the ramp-up to the new season, this one was being touted as this season’s Yuru Yuri or Yuyushiki, but it comes up short and falls flat. The backgrounds are kid’s show grade, and the character design is very ordinary. They like doing high-angle outdoor shots with 45-degree orthographic brick backgrounds (not even true perspective) or other repeating patterns, which looks amateurish or cheap. The character art is super-flat with extremely thin linework reminiscent of very early “digital” animation work, again leaving that low-budget imoression.  Also, the more I watch of it, the more I think it’s got more of a shoujo bent.  There isn’t anything really original going on with the story and developments, so it is difficult to shake that “I’ve seen this before somewhere” feeling.  They seem to be going after more of a gag-type storyline, so don’t expect anything really deep coming of this.  Stinky saliva dakimakura hug-buddy was funny for like 15-seconds.  C+

root – I wasn’t sure what to expect and ended up liking this show. Maybe it’s because all the other gag and cute girls doing cute things shows were so weak. B

High School DxD New – Another season of the same. If you liked the first season, you’ll probably like the second. I tolerated the first season, so this second season is tedious. Keeping all the nomenclature and various conflicting groups or alliances of convenience that they are getting into this season takes too much mental effort considering the lack of enjoyment this property brings. It’s already at the point where they’ve added too many characters to conveniently keep track of. It’s the curse that befalls most serialized harem properties. This is one of two properties this season that has the ability to consistently put me to sleep. C-

Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi (Sunday Without God) – I gave this one a chance because of the cutesy character design. The character animation was decently done and the backgrounds good, though a bit oversaturated. I almost gave up after the first episode because it seemed like it was going to be another “dark for the sake of being dark” properties, but after getting through the first story arc, I do like it. The fighting action is no better than kids shows and the characters are all pretty much stock archetypes, but the concept and story is interesting enough to hold my interest. B-

root — I put off watching this because I was initially not interested. The first episodes didn’t do much, but by the end of the first arc it got good and got my attention. I wonder why the heck they’re tooling around in a VW bus (whose foley is obviously wrong for something with such a distinvtive sound) in a world devoid of any other technology, but whatevers. B

The World God Only Knows, season 3 – From what I can tell from the first episode, they glossed over a fair amount of material. I watched the first season with declining interest, and the second season grudgingly. The overall quality appears to be about the same. I’m not going to squander my anime watching time with this. D-

Recorder and Randsell Mi – If you enjoyed the first season, now you have more. It amazes me somewhat that they have been able to keep this going, but it is a five-minute short. I’m sure after this season, the adult-sized shogakusei and loli koukousei thing will have gotten tired and used up. The photo collage ending credits are interesting for their quaint, urban decay nostalgia theme. B-

root – As a short its entertaining enough to fill the time. There’s nothing great going on, but its not horrible. B-

Gin no Saji (Silver Spoon) – I’ll admit that part of the reason I’m watching this and Servant x Service is the setting is on Hokkaido. It’s sort-of in the vein of Moyashimon, but on a larger scale of organisms. I never really got into Moyashimon, but this one feels a little more approachable. It is educational, and also at least gives kids a kick in the pants about where their food comes from. It also is a good reminder that agriculture is Japan’s largest industry bar none – even manufacturing. Really. I digress. The character animation is OK, and the backgrounds are decent. Some might find it interesting that this is from the mind of Arakawa Hiromu who also brought the world Full-Metal Alchemist. You can take the girl out of Hokkaido, but you can’t take the Hokkaido out of the girl? B+

root – yes it reminds a lot of Moyashimon with it’s agricultural school setting, minus the fantastical element. That isn’t a bad thing here as the characters and story is well told. You could make the argument that there isn’t any reason this should be animated then, everything could just as easily been done in live action. But then the scenes bringing up the issue of your BBQ chicken don’t just come out of a box, that bacon magically comes from a factory, would be a bit too graphic. Being animated does remove it from reality and make it palatable. We’ve pretty much seen the character types but it’s still entertaining. A good watch. A-

Servant x Service – from Takatsu Karino who brought us Working!! comes a somewhat similar ensemble cast, but this time in a municipal ward office instead of a family restaurant. The production quality is very similar. The static establishing background shots look a little more like someone on the staff actually went to Hokkaido, as opposed to the generic urban scenes in Working!!. There aren’t really any reused character types from Working!!, but there are a few personality similarities. Of course, being from Takatsu, you can expect a good dose of abnormal behavior. The writing is good enough that even if you haven’t had any contact with the Japanese city government or even a city office abroad, you still “get it” and everything is still funny. B+

root – was looking forward to this, and like Working is a workplace comedy, this time set in government office, which should be ripe for comedy. The characters aren’t quite as outlandish, it makes them feel a little more like potential workmates we may have had experience with. The developing romance isn’t quite as frustrating and dysfunctional as Working too. Would have been kind of amusing if one of their meals was at Wagnaria. Another good watch. A

More reviews soon!

0 Responses to “2013 Summer Anime”

  • No Comments

Leave a Reply