First Impression- Summer 2017 Anime (Part 1)

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The summer season is upon is, and things have already heated up in regards to the competition between streaming services and where folks can expect to watch stuff. I got pretty riled up about that myself and thanks to they-who-shall-not-be-named, I’ve found myself with a lot potentially interesting stuff to check out, in a season that didn’t seem terribly strong to begin with. Still I’ll try to stay at least semi-positive here, and hopefully I’ll be able to come across at least a couple of diamonds in the rough

Ratings Scale

Bad: Stay away far away from this one.  Not worth watching

Decent: Has some okay elements to it. Might be worth giving a  couple of episodes to see how it goes

Good: Fairly solid show. Should be worth keeping up with for now

Great: Really good show. Definently worth seeing if you get the chance

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .

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Fox Spirit Matchmaker

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Synopsis: In a world where Spirits and Humans coexist and can fall in love with each other, the Spirits’s life expectancy being far superior to the Human’s one can only see their loved one dying before them. Even when that human is reborn, the previous memories of his past life is erased from his memory. However, it is said among Spirits that a certain “service” is spreading. This“service” is provided by the “Fox Spirit Matchmakers” who can revive the lost memories of their former lover. When the Spirits lose their lover, they can purchase the “service” of the “Fox Spirit Matchmakers” so that they could attempt to regain their former lover memories and start over a new love story. This story follows a young Fox Spirit Matchmaker who tries her best to restore lost memories and spread love.

First Impressions: At this point I’ve pretty much learned to come into these chinese co-productions with the impression that they’ll be terrible as their track record has been consistently awful. Even so, I never thought I’d come across one quite THIS bad. From the moment I saw the show’s opening theme song I knew I was in for a rough ride since the song they picked, didn’t match the visuals used for it at all, and the show itself is even less incoherent/ Despite having wasted a good 22 minutes of my life watching it, I couldn’t really tell you what it’s even about, but what I was able to parse together involves something about, exorcists fights, yokai clans and a little fox spirit girl whose told she has to marry some 30 year old dude (it’s said in the beginning he’s a teenager but the show’s so all over the place it’s hard to even tell if he was lying about his age) who seems to be your standard jerkhat overpowered protagonist. Needless to say it’s all incredibly stupid, but that last bit elevates it from trash to a gross dumpster fire since I don’t even want to consider all the implications if the guy actually IS 30 (and his inner monologues seem to support that so…eww). With this much nonsense going in, you’d figure it’d at least be a good show to make fun of, but it’s not even hilariously bad it’s just…nonsense. Maybe someday one of these chinese co-productions will be good, but if this isn’t the absolute bottom of the barrel, I’m terrified of how much worse they can get.

Rating: Bad

Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

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Synopsis: The year is 1863 as the tumultuous samurai era is coming to an end, Japan is split between the pro-shogunate and anti-shogunate factions. The fate of the world is threatened as an army of historical revisionists are sent from the future to alter the course of history. In order to bring these forces down and protect the real history, two sword warriors, spirits who are swords brought to life by Saniwa (sage), rush to Edo. The polite and thoughtful Horikawa Kunihiro and the short tempered yet skillful Izuminokami Kanesada, who served the same master, confront the invading army along with a lively gang of other warriors including Mutsunokami Yoshiyuki, Yagen Toushirou, Tombokiri, and Tsurumaru Kuninaga.

First Impressions: This was one of the few hotly anticipated titles of the Summer seasons, and I was of two different minds about it going in. I saw it’s spinoff, Touken Ranbu Hanamaru a few seasons back and the first episode of that bored me to tears enough to drop it entirely and while this one was reportedly going to have a more serious tone, I wasn’t sure how much it would actually gel with me. As of the first episode of this one my feelings are that it’s…okay so far. Visually it’s as impressive as what we’ve come to expect from Ufotable at this point, as their ability to integrate post-production visual effects into animation is still a technique that rarely fails to work, and the actual animation itself is pretty solid. Story wise I’m a little more unsure since this starts off in media-res and while it’s not particularly difficult to follow, a few more plot details would have helped a lot. The basic idea here seems to revolve around time travel which is usually a pretty fun concept when done right, and one of the things that did strike me as particularly interesting about the premiere here is the idea of the characters having to sit back and let certain tragedies unfold in order keep history on the right track, and if they play with that angle enough it could give this show a little more punch than these stories usually tend to go for. I wouldn’t exactly say this one wowed me, but enough of it worked that I’m willing to give it a few more episodes, and since that’s more than I can say for it’s spinoff, I suppose that’s as good a sign as any.

Rating: Good

 

Battle Girl High School

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Synopsis: In the year 2045, the world has been contaminated by Irousu (mysterious invaders who suddenly appeared), and humans find themselves restricted and contained. Standing boldly against these invaders are ordinary girls everywhere, without a powerful army or even weapons. The Shinjugamine Girls Academy is a school for these “Hoshimori” (Star Guardians) destined to fight the Irousu.

First Impressions: So I figured right away this wasn’t going to be my type of thing, but since it’s HiDive’s one and only simulcast for the season, and I recently subscribed to it, I figured I might as well give it a look. It’s more or less what I expected it to be as it’s a series that mixes the “cute girls doing cute things” genre with a few minor bits of magical girl and action stuff tossed in for good measure. Unsurprisingly the focus is more on the “cute girls” bit than anything else meaning that it’s by and large not for me, and the show crams so many girls into the first episode that I’d have a hard time imagining anyone getting attached to them even if this is they’re sort of thing. When all is said and done though it’s perfectly harmless and while nothing about it thrilled me in any real capacity, there was nothing really offensive about this either, and those who do enjoy this sort of thing should likely get some millage out of it. As for me though, it’s almost certainly a pass unless this season ends up being really barren.

Rating: Decent

 

Knight’s & Magic

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Synopsis: A genius programmer and hardcore robot otaku is reborn into a world of knights and magic, where huge robots called Silhouette Knights roar across the land! Now reborn as Ernesti Echevalier, he uses his vast knowledge of machines and programming talents to begin to make his ultimate robot.  But his actions have unexpected results…?! The dreams of a robot otaku will change the world!

First Impressions: Bizarre lack of proper grammar aside, this seemed like it could be one of the more interesting offerings of CR’s summer lineup so far since both hi-fantasy and robots are things that typically gel with me, and combining them together even more so. Even with all that I can’t say this was a particularly remarkable premiere but it’s one that worked out pretty well for the most part. Reincarnation seems to be the hot new thing for LN-based anime lately, and while it’s generally a neat concept, in this case I can’t help but be slightly disappointed we couldn’t have gotten the working adult the MC used to be in his former life as our actual protagonist since throwing that kind of character into a fantasy world with robots would be something of a fresher take. Still, 20 minutes of watching his new self be totally dorky about wanting to ride a giant robot was pretty entertaining in it’s own right and it’s kind of interesting that we actually get to see some of his childhood instead of just jumping immediately to when he’s old to pilot one, and it does more to make his sense of enthusiasm endearing rather than a just a convenient excuse for him to be overpowered later on. Unfortunately all this skipping around means that this episode doesn’t really do much to establish the other characters or the actual setting of the series, but it at least manages to avoid feeling slow, and the 3DCG used for the robots proper seems workable enough (the giant monsters less so but we’ll have to see how that goes I guess). While I can’t really say this premiere did much to elevate itself as a genre thing, I had a pretty good time with it, and even though I’m mostly just in it for the aforementioned genre stuff for the time being, it seems like it’ll be okay enough at that to warrant a few more episodes.

Rating: Good

 

Clean Freak! Aoyama-kun

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Synopsis: Aoyama kun is a hot, young soccer prodigy who plays midfielder for the National U-16 Soccer Team. But he’s also an extreme germaphobe!

First Impressions: So at first glance this seemed like it would be up my alley. Sports shows are generally a pretty reliable source of entertainment and the character designs seemed clean enough to give the impression this would be a semi-polished production. In execution however…I was left feeling cold. Unlike most sports shows the series starts off with Aoyama already being an established member of the team and a presumably skilled player which immediately kills most of it’s potential as a sports show since those are almost always about the progression of the protagonist as a player or the bonds they form with their team. Instead this gives off more of the impression of a gag series with plenty of pretty boys to gawk at, but it doesn’t quite work well on that end either since the episode has but only the one joke about Aoyama refusing to do things that will get him dirty, and it doesn’t really spin that well enough to produce any decent laughs, and it all fell pretty flat for me. On top of those problems it also features some of the heaviest animation shortcuts I’ve ever seen from a sports anime, and while the show at least makes the attempt to disguise them with good visual direction, it’s never quite sharp enough to work, and since the first episode of a show is usually supposed to be among it’s most well-animated I only see this getting worse from here. I really wanted to like this one, but nothing about it clicked with me and by the time I saw myself staring at the run-time I knew it wasn’t going to work out. I guess this might work for folks into bishonen comedies, but I came in expecting a sports show and left with something that felt like a lackluster mesh of those genres.

Rating: Bad

 

Elegant Yokai Apartment Life 

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Synopsis: Yushi Inaba is forced into an awkward living situation at his uncle’s house after his parents pass away. He decides that when he goes to high school, he’s going to live on his own, and finds an ultra-cheap apartment named Kotobuki-so. But it was a monster apartment, filled with monsters, humans, and ghosts! At first, Yuki doesn’t know how to deal with these eerie monsters, but after spending time with these strange creatures his closed heart gradually begins to open…

First Impressions: This one was completely off my radar going in so I had no real clue what to expect here but I actually ended up digging this one. The whole wacky roomates bit is a staple that’s pretty exhausted at this point, and the same can especially be said for wacky yokai stuff, but the execution here was a lot more grounded than I would have expected from it’s premise. While Yushi isn’t exactly a stand out protagonist I appreciate that the first episode actually took the time to dive into his situation and it did a lot to make him endearing. The other residents introduced so far are also pretty likable and while I have no doubt the show’s sense of comedy will get zanier at some point, I’m glad the first episode decided to keep things relatively simple and charming. I might be giving this one too much praise but since I wasn’t really expecting much of anything, it’s hard to complain much about a mostly welcome surprise. While there’s still plenty of room for this one to turn into something a bit more sluggish for now I’m certainly happy to give more of it a go.

Rating: Good

 

Restaurant to Another World

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Synopsis: There is a certain restaurant in the first basement level of a multi-tenant building in one corner of a shopping street near the office district. The historical 70-year-old restaurant, marked by a sign with a picture of a cat, is called “Western Cuisine Nekoya.” This restaurant looks completely normal through the week, but on Saturdays, it opens in secret exclusively to some very unique guests. During these hours, doors in various areas of a parallel world open to allow customers of many different races and cultures into the restaurant.

First Impressions: While I can’t say I was super excited for this show, everything about it’s basic premise seemed like a pretty safe bet for me. I like slice-of-life stories about demihumans and monsters, and I like food, so a show that combines those two elements together is something I can certainly get behind. Right off the bat, one of the single most appealing aspects of this show is how good it makes the food look. Anime about cooking is generally good in that respect but the amount of detail that goes into the look of each dish displayed is enough to leave you feeling totally hungry afterwards. As far as it’s slice-of-life elements go though, the focus is clearly more on the atmosphere than the characters so far, and we’re only explicitly introduced to our heroine halfway through the episode, but the overall aesthetic is enough to compensate so far, and I don’t have too much room to doubt that the show will flesh the cast out later on. For now though, I’m fully willing to admit that I’m just watching this because of how good the food looks, and if that’s to be my crime, I’ll be more than willing to bear it for the time being.

Rating: Good

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