First Impressions- Summer 2018 Anime (Part 1)

Summer’s here, which means, ice cream, heat waves that make me pray for death, and of course a ton of new anime. To be honest I can’t say I’m particularly excited about this season’s lineup since only a couple of things have really peaked my attention, but as is generally the case when it comes to feeling that way, lower expectations means there’s hopefully plenty of room to be surprised. With that in mind it’s time to beat the heat and dive into some new shows

(Also as a quick note, I’m sorry I haven’t really posted anything since the start of the spring season. I meant to have a couple of reviews out but things kept getting in the way. Hopefully having more free time for the summer means I’ll be able to tackle a few of them)

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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Hanebado

Synopsis: Despite her great potential, Ayano Hanesaki would rather avoid badminton than play it. But, when she meets Nagisa Aragaki, a third year who spends every waking moment perfecting her game, she’s inspired. Encouraged by their coach, Tachibana Kentarou, Ayano and Nagisa will hit the court and rally against opponents and rivals with amazing skills!

First Impressions: Since there wasn’t really too much on my radar in general this season, Hanebado didn’t really catch my attention in previews but sports are generally a pretty reliable genre in anime, and this one is off to a strong start. A lot of sports anime narratives are generally about an individual or a team overcoming obstacles on the way to becoming champions and tend to embrace the positivity of working hard towards achieving a higher goal. This is not that show. Instead it’s more a story of the kind of resentment that can be found when an athlete comes face to face with someone who outshines them in every aspect and the frustration of hitting a wall that seems impossible to overcome. This is all expressed through our heroine Nagisa, a girl who still seems to be reeling in from the shock of being defeated by a natural born talent and has been taking it out on her teammates ever since. It’s certainly heavier subject matter than most sports anime tend to start off with but the direction of the first episode captures that mood pretty well as we see how those feelings affect both her team and Nagisa herself as well as sprouting the seeds of how she might begin to bounce back from it. It helps that the show has some absolutely stellar character animation (certainly unexpected given that Linden Films has a track record for embarrassingly bad looking productions), and some of the badmitton exchanges we see throughout the episode are so fluid, it’s almost impossible to imagine the show will be able to keep it up for very long. I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I did but everything about this premiere feels promising, and this definitely feels like something to keep an eye on

Rating: Great

 

Island

Synopsis: Urajima, an island far from the mainland. The people who live there lead carefree lives. But five years ago, the island’s three great families suffered a series of misfortunes, and succumbed to suspicion. The people of the island cut off all contact with the mainland, and began a slow decline. The key to saving the island lies in three girls who belong to the three families. But they are bound by old traditions, and are conflicted. On that island, a lone man washes ashore. The man claims to be from the future, and he begins a solitary struggle to change the island’s fate.

First Impressions: I didn’t really know anything about this going in other than that some of it’s content might be potentially problematic, and sure enough this show opens on what looks like a sex scene involving a loli. Needless to say it didn’t get off to the best start for me, and while nothing else in the episode is mercifully as repulsive as that, what we’re left with is 20 minutes of blandness. The plot here seems to involve our MC-kun having lost his memories and ending up on a mysterious island, with only the memory that he performed some kind of time travel. This seems like it could have been a somewhat interesting setup but it’s kind of wasted on the fact that our MC-kun for the show is a bland pervert who doesn’t really stand out in any particular way and much of this premiere involves him encountering a series of prepubescent looking girls he’s likely gonna bang at some point. There’s nothing truly awful here outside of the opening scene but unless you’re really into time travel mysteries there’s also nothing here that really feels like it’ll grab your attention. It is pretty nice looking as has come to be expected from stuff produced by feel, but nothing else stands out, and the seeds of potential grossness doesn’t leave much room for optimism. Gonna give this a pass.

Rating: Bad

Mr. Tonegawa Middle Management Blues

First Impresssions: I’m a really big fan of the Kaiji anime, and it’s mix of high energy suspense thriller and social commentary about the dregs of society made going through both seasons of the series a pretty memorable experience. Since this was a spin-off staring season 1’s most compelling antagonist I was kind of interested in checking it out, though my interest wined a bit in knowing it’s a gag series rather than a more expanded look at the world of Kaiji. Those woes seem to have been pretty justified in the wake of the show’s premiere which is…passable. I appreciate that it recapped season 1 of Kaiji for any newcomers and is trying its best to be as accessible as possible, but even with that the actual comedy of the show is a bit lacking. While the show does try to maintain the overall style of the previous Kaiji anime adaptions, Kaiji’s sense of humor only really works in that you kind of have to laugh at how utterly absurd some of the reactions can get when the characters are dealing with the insane setups for some of the show’s death games. This doesn’t quite have that and opts for more standard jokes instead which honestly feels like kind of a waste. It’s not awful, and someone else might get some enjoyment out of it, but I can’t personally see much reason to give this a watch unless you’re already invested in the franchise. I’ll see how the rest of the season looks for Tuesdays but for right now this is probably a pass.

Rating: Decent

 

The Thousand Musketeers

Synopsis: The whole world was devastated by the nuclear war. Under the strong rule of the World Empire, people are all suppressed and deprived of their own lives. A resistance team secretly keeps fighting to break the suppression while everyone is forbidden to possess any force of arms. The team arms themselves with “antique guns” that were left as works of art, and the incarnations of those antique guns are called “Musketeers” appear and join the team, as if they responded to the soul of the resistence. In their battles with the incarnations of contemporary guns who represent and are dispatched from the Empire, the “Musketeers” turn their “Absolute Noble” mode to give a powerful boost to themselves, and bring hope to the world.

First Impressions: And here we are with our first fujoshi show. These are always kind of hit or miss for me since my interest tends to depend on if the setting or writing is strong enough to break past the barrier of me not really me the target audience for them. This particular series is highly reminiscent of the Touken Ranbu franchise which featured a bevy of bishonen  who were incarnations of swords wielded by famous real world swordsmen. However for this show instead of sword boys its gun boys, and where as Touken Ranbu involved time travel shenanigans, this seems to be post-apocalyptic in some fashion. While that’s all well and good I wasn’t particuarly big on the first Touken Ranbu anime, Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru, since it was pretty slice-of-life ish and I couldn’t keep track of the chatacters, and this series seems to be following the same kind of tone. The first episode introduces us to a ton of characters, none of whom felt particularly interesting to me outside of some having outrageously feminine looking character designs, and any set up in regards to world building or establishing the setting is mainly sacrificed to stuffing as many characters into this premiere as possible. As you can tell by my rambling I lost interest pretty fast, but like with previous seasons I’m willing to admit when my problem a show is mainly that I’m just not the audience for it, and this is another case of that. I’m sure it’ll find traction with the fujoshi audience and I hope they enjoy it, but as for me, this isn’t something I see myself keeping up with.

Rating: *shurg*

 

How Not to Summon A Demon Lord

Synopsis: An elite but socially-stunted gamer finds himself in another world, inhabiting the body of his character Diablo. But despite his powers, his awkwardness keeps getting in the way–so he decides to pretend to be a Demon Lord and soon finds himself with a pair of slaves: a well-endowed elf and a cat girl. Together, they struggle with everything from interpersonal relationships to diabolical beast battles!

First Impressions: It’s time for our first isekai of the season and it’s a time I’ve kind of learned to dread. Isekai LN adaptions are typically the pits with a few good exceptions, and this one in particular gave me a lot to be concerned about. I knew coming in that this one featured MC-kun enslaving the two key members of his harem as part of the hook, and while it hasn’t yet used it for anything incredibly gross it’s basically a matter of when rather than if, and the recent crop of slave girls popping up as the new fetish in anime is one I find outright repulsive in light of how it always glosses over the fact that well…slavery is awful. Putting aside that soapboxing though there isn’t really much else here to be optimistic about. The series has some of the most ridiculous boob physics I’ve seen in a while and it’s so stacked with busoms that even the big evil endgame monster has giant knockers. It’s pretty jarring to say the least and it doesn’t help that the show’s resident MC-kun is about as boring as expected from the lot, and while his demon lord persona did almost get a chuckle out of me a couple of times, it was pretty swiftly negated when he uses it to “not really” sexually harass his catgirl slave. The nicest thing I can say is that the show looks pretty fine visually if not stellar and the character designs aren’t terrible despite the ridiculous boobs but unless you’re the kind of person who chows down on horny isekai no matter what the quality, you’ll probably be better served elsewhere.

Rating: Bad

 

Banana Fish

Synopsis: Nature made Ash Lynx beautiful; nurture made him a cold ruthless killer. A runaway brought up as the adopted heir and sex toy of “Papa” Dino Golzine, Ash, now at the rebellious age of seventeen, forsakes the kingdom held out by the devil who raised him. But the hideous secret that drove Ash’s older brother mad in Vietnam has suddenly fallen into Papa’s insatiably ambitious hands–and it’s exactly the wrong time for Eiji Okamura, a pure-hearted young photographer from Japan, to make Ash Lynx’s acquaintance…

First Impressions: There weren’t too many things that immediately excited me from the summer lineup, but this was definently one of the few shows I was curious about. I know the manga is a pretty beloved classic both as a gritty crime story and as an actually well done gay romance story. Going by the first episode that reputation seems to be pretty well earned as the premiere is bursting with style and uses some slick cinematic direction to really capture the essence of the show’s urban setting and making it feel like a crime movie. Ash and Eiji also both seem like pretty interesting leads thus far and while we spend more time with the former, the episode paints a pretty good idea of their respective personalities, and helps in giving an idea of what might end up attracting them to each other. To top it all off, the animation in the premiere is stacked as heck and there’s some really good action sequences that I’m almost certain the show won’t be able to keep up. My only concern so far is that some of the material might end up feeling dated since the manga is kind of old by this point but the show does give some indication that it might modernize things a little and I’m curious to see what it does on that front too. All in all Banana Fish had a stellar premiere and while it definently seems too good to have fallen into the hands of Amazon, I’ll put up with them if it means getting more of this

Rating: Great

 

Angels of Death

Synopsis: Most girls that wake up in the home of a serial killer would panic, but not Ray. In fact, her meeting with the killer Zack is actually quite convenient because her only wish is to find a good way to die.

First Impressions: I didn’t really know too much going into this other than that it’s apparently based off of some kind of game (and said game is available in English so I may look it up later) but the trailer certainly had an interesting visual style going for it so I was pretty curious to see what this was about. This first episode is incredibly (and more than likely intentionally) vague on plot as all we know is that our heroine Rachael has ended up in a mysterious hospital after witnessing a murder and each floor of said hospital is inhabited by some kind of crazy serial killer. Yeah, this is pretty nuts, and it certainly seems to know the fact given that we spend a fairly good chunk of the time watching Rachael fleeing from a guy who literally walks around with a scythe and a hoodie. At the same time though, while it would be easy to dismiss it as overly edgy nonsense, the visual direction manages to evoke a sense of dread that actually manages to make a lot of the various scenes throughout the episode feel genuinely creepy rather than silly and I walked away from it feeling pretty curious about what else it may have in store. It’s possible it won’t be able to keep that balance up and’ll end up steering a bit too far into the edge, but it has my attention for at least the next couple of weeks

Rating: Good

 

Harukana Recieve

Synopsis: Oozora Haruka is a high school second-year who’s just moved to Okinawa. Haruka is generally cheerful and optimistic, but there’s one thing she feels insecure about: she’s taller than most other girls. Higa Kanata, her cousin of the same age who meets her at the airport, also has one hang-up: she had to quit her beloved beach volleyball in the past because she was too short. Through some twist of fate, these mismatched cousins find themselves paired up as a beach volleyball team. How will this duo play together in a sport where the presence of one’s teammate is more important than anything?!

First Impressions: Summertime means girls in bikinis and to be honest I hadn’t really looked up anything about the show outside of base level premise so I assumed it was essentially meant to be just that. However while this premiere certainly has a fair deal of “plot” it skews less towards a fanservice show disguised as a sports show and more of a moe show disguised as a sports show. As someone who enjoys more straightforward sports shows,  I can’t say either combination would have caught my attention outright, but the latter has certainly worked out for me in other shows. Far as this one goes though it’s…fine I guess. The four girls we’re introduced to all neatly fit in expected moe archetypes but aside from a pretty serious case of sameface going on, the show at least suggests that there’ll be some drama later down the line for them. Similarly while neither the direction or animation are nearly dynamic enough to make this work as an actual sports show, there’s enough effort put in that it at least feels like it’s trying. Personally though while there wasn’t anything particuarly wrong about the execution here, nothing about it really grabbed me either, and while I wasn’t outright bored, nothing really made me feel compelled to see what happens next. This certainly wasn’t an awful premiere but for right now, I’m honestly pretty sure I won’t be coming back to this.

Rating: Decent

 

Chio’s School Road

Synopsis: Miyamo Chio, a first-year at the completely ordinary high school Samejima Academy. Chio just wants to get through her school life without standing out too much, but for some reason, all kinds of obstacles await her along the path she takes to school. Her long-time friend Nonomura Manana, who’s trying to quit being an otaku; the flawless Hosokawa Yuki, who occupies the top caste in the school; and lots of nameless people about town find themselves in Chio’s path as she employs the (useless) techniques she’s acquired from her Western video games in her daily efforts to get to school.

First Impressions:  Going by the premise, I figured this show was going to end up being a short and thus not really worth the effort of typing about but turns out it’s a full length show after all so here I am. This is yet another series that centers around a core joke, the joke here being the strange things our heroine Chio does on her way to school, and how much enjoyment you’ll end up getting out of this mainly depends on how much the show can really stretch said joke. Going by the premiere though it seems like they may be able to make it work. Chio’s pretty relateable as far as introverted nerds go and the crazy things she ends up doing remind me of some of the more awkward things I pulled in high school when i wanted to avoid talking to people. Not all of the gags here land but when they do they’re pretty solid and it managed to keep a smile on my face for most of its runtime. The only negative so far is that the overall production seems a little limited for this particular brand of zany comedy, but it works pretty well with what it has, and there’s some pretty good faces sprinkled in. Hard to say how this season will end up looking as far as good comedies go but this seems like a pretty solid contender and one that I’ll keep up with.

Rating: Good

 

Planet With 

Synopsis: Souya Kuroi is a high schooler living a peaceful life despite having no memories of his past. One day, however, his town is attacked by one of the mysterious Nebula Weapons. Together with the cat-like “Sensei” and the gothic lolita Ginko, Soya gets dragged into a battle against… seven superheroes who protect the town! What is Soya’s reason to fight? The answer lies in his memories.

First Impressions: Satoshi Mizukami is perhaps one of the best manga authors you’ve likely never heard of. He has an incredibly strong knack for telling incredibly human stories through a very bizarre lens and the two of his works that have managed to make their way over to the west, Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer and Spirit Circle, are both manga I consider to be masterpieces in their own right. While none of his manga have managed to make their way over to animation, I was pretty excited to learn that he was helming an anime original project and  it made this my most anticipated show of the season by far. Going by the premiere it is very much in line with what I’ve come to expect from Mizukami’s writing: our story follows the tale of an amnesic boy named Soya, living with a giant cat and a made girl when a weird looking UFO and heroes with giant robots show up. However rather than having to fight the UFO, Soya finds himself opposed to the heroes instead, and they seem to have a connection to his missing memories. It’s as weird as it sounds, but the episode more or less manages to run with it, and it’s already showing traces of Mizukami’s strength at writing characters as we briefly get the backstory of one of the heroes and manages to provide a good idea of what drives him over the course of a few minutes. The only serious negatives I have so far is that Mizukami’s general sense of pacing gets a little jumpy in terms of how it translates into animation, and the production itself is pretty conservative looking. Even with those hiccups though, I’m glad to finally see something Mizukami related get animated, and come what may, I’m totally down to see what brand of weirdness he has in store for this story.

Rating: Great

 

Cells at Work

Synopsis: Strep throat! Hay fever! Influenza! The world is a dangerous place for a red blood cell just trying to get her deliveries finished. Fortunately, she’s not alone … She’s got a whole human body’s worth of cells ready to help out! The mysterious white blood cell, the buff and brash killer T cell, the nerdy neuron, even the cute little platelets—everyone’s got to come together if they want to keep you healthy!

First Impressions: While David Productions is more or less known as the Jojo’s studio at this point, they do in fact do other projects, and this latest manga adaption happens to be one of them. Of course it might be hard to tell watching the actual premiere here though because the director of Diamond is Unbreakable is in charge of this adaption, and there’s definently quite a bit of Jojo’s level absurdity to be had here. The premise of “what if the cells in our body were actually people” certainly isn’t a new concept (we all remember Osmosis Jones for better or worse) but it’s not one I’m particularly a fan of since stuff about the inner workings of the body almost always involves a high level of gross-out humor which I despise. Fortunately instead of focusing on the weird and sometimes gross things the body does to stay healthy, this opts to bit various kinds of blood cells against diseases, and the results are pretty funny. It helps that every kind of cell we meet throughout the episode is framed as a different archetype with a red blood cell being a clumsy go-getter while one of the white blood cells could pass for Jotaro Kujo’s long-lost brother. The comedy itself also relies on the bizarre shonen-esque escalation of how these battles against diseases fare going from massive violence, to bacteria literally being shot out of a sneeze missile. It was a surreal experience to say the least but it certainly kept me amused, and it also looks good enough production-wise that there’s probably not too much room to worry on how much it may have to compromise to sell a joke. I’m generally not a fan of “inside the body” scenarios, but this was fun enough that it may prove to be the exception

Rating: Good

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