First Impressions- Summer 2020 Anime

Between the scorching summer heat and the world still being on fire we could all use a little cooling off, and nothing beats the heat quite like some good old fashioned anime. But sadly since again, the world is still on fire, anime production as gotten hit pretty rough, and most of the stuff that was originally set for this season has been moved over to the fall while some of the stuff that didn’t last through the spring are restarting now. This leaves us with very few actual premieres, and while I certainly can’t complain about having less bad shows to potentially shift through for impressions, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed about having less stuff to watch. Still the situation is what is, and I could certainly do without folks dying just so I can get my cartoons faster, so I’m more than willing to make do with what we’ve got. With all that out of the way, let’s see what this season has to offer

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. Definitely worth seeing if you get the chance

Excellent: Really outstanding show. Absolutely worth following .

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Super HXEROS

Super HxEros

Synopsis: Earth faces an unprecedented threat from an invasion by the mysterious Kiseichuu. The Kiseichuu feed on human sexual energy, also known as “H-energy”, and weaken the human population. High school student Retto Enjou is a member of the hero group HXEROS, who fight together to save the earth from the Kiseichuu.

First Impressions: On the surface this seemed like a trashy premise with a lot of potential to be fun. Parodying tokusatsu shows with heavy fanservice tropes isn’t exactly a new concept, but it’s one I can get behind, and fanservice shows in particular tend to be far more entertaining when they’re played as over the top as possible so I figured this would be at least close to my exact brand on that end. In execution however, this show was a lot more boring than I expected. The tokusatsu trappings are still there, and everything from the eyecatches, to the monster designs and especially the banging OP song, seems like it’d make for a perfect love-letter for the genre. Unfortunately the actual material doesn’t carry around any of that same energy as we spend most of time being introduced to the protagonist Ret who’s sad that his childhood friend Hoshino is no longer into him, while there’s an alien invasion in the background and despite some occasional wackiness with the fanservice, almost all of it treated dead seriously, which for something like this, kinda has the opposite effect when it comes to enjoyment. The actual tokusatsu stuff isn’t executed much better as even with stuff like Ret losing his close everytime he punches a monster, or that the aliens suck erotic energy from people, it all comes off as more flat as intended, and even the punchline of Hoshino acting like a tsundere only for it to be revealed that she was so horny for Ret as a kid it made one of the monsters explode didn’t have the right amount of punch it’s execution to get much of a laugh out of me. Long story short, I expected the direction for this show to be way wackier than it actually was, and the fact that it’s playing what is clearly supposed to be a campy parody in such a dry manner is extremely weird. and I kinda can’t help but imagine what it would be like the anime staff really went buck wild with it. For what we got though, this was mostly just a shurg, and while it’s always possible later episodes of this will be campier in execution, for now this seems like it’ll probably be a pass

Rating: Decent

Monster Girl Doctor

Monster Girl Doctor

Synopsis: In the town of Lindworm where monsters and humans coexist, Dr. Glenn runs an exemplary medical clinic for monster girls with his lamia assistant, Sapphee. Whether receiving a marriage proposal by a centaur injured in battle, palpating the injury of a mermaid, or suturing the delicate wounds of a flesh golem, Dr. Glenn performs his job with grace and confidence. But when an unsavory character seeks to steal a harpy egg, how will the unflappable Dr. Glenn respond…?

First Impressions: While the winter season’s Interspecies Reviewers was a pretty hot topic while it came out, both for it’s content and the licensing nightmare that ensued because of it, this show is more in line with what I’ve come to expect from the “monster girl” genre. That is to say it’s horny and definently interested in having its audience ogle cute monster girls via fake science, but relatively tame in terms of actual sexual content. In the case of this show it follows a human doctor and his snake girl assistant as the roam the land treating monsters of various races who all happen to be women because well, this show knows exactly what people are here for. The focus for the premiere has them treating an ojou-sama centaur warrior who keeps losing matches because she refuses to put on horseshoes (which I guess would sound about right), and if you think the show wouldn’t be able to make something as seemingly beign as that into something horny, rest assured it somehow finds a way, and even putting aside that angle I was kinda surprised at the attention to detail in how they made sure the horseshoes were fitted properly. This is a whole lot of rambling, but frankly this is one of those things where you’ll probably know whether or not it’s for you pretty quickly. If you’re into seeing monster girls getting ogled in (mostly) consensual ways and some potentially light harem antics, since you can bet your bottom dollar all the monster girls want to play doctor with the doctor, then you’ll probabIIly get some mileage out of this. If not, then I’d recommend looking elsewhere for something entertaining this season. Personally though, I kind of am in the mood for some light fanservice trash, and since Super HXEROS was a lot more boring than I expected from it’s branding, this seems like it might do nicely so long as it doesn’t go too horny on main, and I was amused enough that it seems like it’s worth at least another episode or two.

Rating: Decent

Lapis Re:LIGHTs

Lapis Re:LiGHTs

Synopsis: Tiara at Flora Girls Academy is where witches are trained to purify the magical beasts that threaten the humans. Together with her classmates, Tiara is ready to learn how to save lives and bring smiles to people’s faces.

First Impressions: Even with a pandemic going on and production schedules getting obliterated in the process, it still wouldn’t be a new season of anime without at least one idol or cute girls doing cute things show, and Lapis Re:LIGHTs is here to pull double duty. At least it seems like that’ll be the case based on a lot of the promotional material and the opening theme. For what we actually get here in the premiere the show so far leans a little more towards the cute girls doing cute things end of the pool as we’re introduced to a band of plucky techicolor haired heroines who all seem to neatly fit into the character archetypes you’d expect from that. As is often the case with cute girls doing cute things shows though, there’s usually some kind of hook and in this case it’s that the girls are all witches attending a magic academy. I’ll admit it’s a pretty good one, and this premiere does some solid world building as we’re introduced to the various forms of magic that the girls can perform, and the rank-based hierarchy that determines the social pecking order at the academy. Of course, none of this is really too different from anything you’d see in another witch school show, so even on that end, it functions more than it actively stands out. It doesn’t help that the character designs for all the girls have a lot of sameface going on, and while the show is pretty to look at otherwise, they’re still clearly supposed to be the main selling point, so that sort of thing is a pretty big cardinal sin of blandness for me. If it sounds like I’m being overly-harsh here, I didn’t really anything against this premiere and it seems like a perfectly fine show, but so far it doesn’t have enough of a kick to seem like it’ll hold my interest. Maybe I’ll give it another episode to see if it does a little more with the worldbuilding, but right now I’m leaning towards giving this a drop

Rating: Decent

The Misfit of Demon Academy

The Misfit of Demon King Academy

Synopsis: Anos Voldigord was a tyrannical Demon King that eradicated humans, spirits, and even the gods, but became bored of eternal warfare and reincarnated with dreams of a peaceful world. However, what awaited him in reincarnation after 2000 years were descendants who became too weak after being accustomed to peace, and all sorts of magic that deteriorated to the extreme. Anos enters Demon King Academy that gathers and educates those who are viewed as the reincarnation of the Demon King, but the academy could not see through his true powers and ends up branding him as a misfit!

First Impressions: So continuing the trend of obligatory genre shows, we have our light novel based title, The Misfit of Demon Academy, which might as well be labeled “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Mahouka”. The Mahouka-ness in question largely centering around the fact that series stars a smug overpowered protagonist who the audience is clearly supposed to admire for how cool and powerful they are, while in-universe the character is demeaned because they don’t fit into the rules of that world’s society. Since I dropped Mahouka after a couple of episodes, and everything I heard about it’s politics made me more than happy to never look back, this seems like it would be an instant dealbreaker, but I’ll admit there’s a little potential here. For one thing while our MC-kun is “unfairly punished” for being a super awesome special snowflake, instead of using that a vehicle to justify weird right-wing politics the same way Mahouka did, instead this show’s MC-kun is beating up smug nobles who think their bloodline is everything, and he himself has contempt for how little value they put on the lives of others. This theoretically puts it safely to the left of Mahouka, and while I’m not really a power fantasy guy, a power fantasy about beating up rich people who only inherited everything they have seems like it could make for a fun time. Of course this being a light novel adaptation, there’s all the chance in the world it could end up either not doing anything with that or go in the opposite direction later down the line. It’s sense of humor is also kind of hit or miss because while I did get a kick out of MC-kun’s parents being sweet and over-enthuastic about their son, and MC-kun killing a noble over and over again because he was too smug to surrender, I was a little less amused by the gag about MC-kun being one month old and picking up girls already since that does come off as a little squick-ish and with the way light novels can be sometimes, that might be a big warning flag. Even so I got a little more out of this than I was expecting, and it certainly looks pretty, so against my better judgement I might actually watch one more episode of I Can’t Believe It’s not Mahouka. Hopefully I won’t regret this decision

Rating: Decent

The God of Highschool

The God of High School

Synopsis: Well-known fighters are all here at the national competition to find out who is the best fighter, but a mysterious group, called “Nox Solidarity”, comes and tries to make a mess. Now, who is going to fight with Mori and his friends against Nox?

First Impressions: This is the second of the major co-productions between Crunchyroll and WEBTOON, and while Tower of God turned out to be kinda boring and empty, this one I was a little more interested in. The main reason being this adaption happens to to be helmed by one Seong-Ho Park of Garo: Vanishing Line fame. For anyone who didn’t happen to check that show out while it was airing it was basically one giant “rule of cool” and throwing as much testosterone and style at the screen as humanly possible, with some cool kinetic fight animation to match. So far this series looks to be a pretty good repeat of that since there’s plenty of brawling going down here, and all of it’s presented in a way that’s designed to be as mainstream as possible, but that’s not quite what won me over. What actually got my attention was the crazy and chaotic energy poured into a single bicycle chase that lasts half the episode, but was both ridiculously well animated, and also a weirdly fun way to introduce the three main protagonists as the hefty amount of slapstick they go through in an effort to retrieve an old lady’s purse speaks both to them being good natured, and incredibly stupid, which is a combination that’s generally endearing to me. Combine all that with a cool soundtrack and some overly stylish eyecatch cards, and it’s clear that this premiere is out to impress as quickly as it possibly can, and I’d say that for the most part it succeeds. My only real fear is that for all the flash and style that was here, there’s a pretty high chance the actual story might be a little too empty for all of this to compensate, and given how Tower of God turned out, it’s certainly possible it could end up being similarly bland in that area. Still, I had way more fun with this show’s premiere than I did with ToG’s so for now I’m willing to give this the benefit of the doubt, and with Seong-Ho Park’s general sense of style and flair, it’ll at least be pretty to look if nothing else. Hopefully this show didn’t totally blow it’s load in the first episode, but for now it’s certainly the most fun premiere I’ve seen this season and I’d say it’s worth giving a peek.

Rating: Great

Deca-dence

Deca-Dence

Synopsis: After nearly being driven to extinction by life forms known as Gadoll, humanity dwells in a mobile fortress named Deca-Dence. Built to protect humans from the Gadoll threat, it’s occupied by Gears, warriors who fight daily, and Tankers, those without the same skills. Natsume, who dreams of fighting, meets Kaburagi, an armor repairman. Their chance meeting will shake the future of this world.

First Impressions: Deca-dence is this season’s big anime-original project, and one being brought to us by the anime studio with the greatest name in existence: Studio NUT. Jokes aside, I was pretty curious to check this one out because one man’s name was attached to this as the director, and that name is Yuzuru Tachikawa. Between his work on his previous anime-original series Death Parade at Madhouse, and his insanely well-crafted adaption of Mob Psycho 100 at BONES, Tachikawa has quickly become one of my favorite anime directors and I’m excited for anything new he gets to work on. That excitement was pretty well rewarded with this premiere because there’s a lot to like about this series. This series takes place in a world where humanity has been under attack by monsters known as the Gadoll and has been forced to live inside a giant mobile fortress known as the Deca-dence where they attempt to hold up a resistence. Enter Natsume, our plucky young heroine who dreams of becoming a soldier in order to help humanity live in peace, but because she lost her real arm in a Gadoll attack as a child and only has a prosthetic, she has to make due living out a quiet life making repairs on the Deca-dence under the direction of her supervisor Kaburagi, who’s a pretty big cynic. As fate would have it though, there’s a little more to Kaburagi that meets the eye, and when the Deca-dence undergoes another Gadoll attack, Natsume gets a close up view of how well he can fight.

This is just the base summary of the episode but I haven’t even gotten into things like the fact that the soldiers who fight the Gadoll and more along the lines of the wastelanders you’d see in a Mad Max movie, with the cars and hair to match, and the Deca-dence is operated like a robot fortress you’d see out an old 80’s mecha anime like Macross, complete with it’s own crew. Long story short, this show is basically what would happen if Attack on Titan, Mortal Engines and Mad Max: Fury Road had a baby, but instead of that baby being overly dark and serious, they’re just out to have a good time and take everyone else along for the ride. This hits just about all my checkboxes for cool things I like out of anime and action movies, and layering all of that on top of some pretty fun character animation puts this next to The God of Highschool as the premiere to beat this season, and I have a lot more faith this one won’t lose any steam as it goes on. My only real issue is that the 3DCG for the Gadoll looks a little clunky in a couple of shots, but with how impressive the rest of the show looks, it’s a moot point and the action choreography of the big battle more than makes up for that deficiency. I don’t know quite where this show is headed, but with Tachikawa at the helm, I have all the confidence in the world it’ll be exciting.

Rating: Great

Rent-A-Girlfriend

Rent-A-Girlfriend

Synopsis: In Japan, the lonely have a new way out — online services that rent out dads, children, even girlfriends! When Kazuya’s true love dumps him, he’s just desperate enough to try it, and he’s shocked at how cute and sweet his rental girlfriend turns out to be. But she wants to keep their “relationship” a secret, and there’s a complication… she goes to his university… and their grandmothers are in the same home… and they live next door to each other?! And Kazuya finds out she’s not nearly as nice in “real life”… 

First Impressions: I’ve heard a lot of mixed things about this rom-com, and while none of them made me excited to watch this, they certainly made me curious, and sure enough I walked away from this premiere feeling mixed on what I watched. The basic rundown of the episode is pretty straightforward, Kazuya is a 20-year old college student who gets dumped by his first girlfriend, and in desperation turns to an online app that allows him to date a fake girlfriend named Chizuru. She plays the part of the ideal girlfriend, but that only causes Kazuya’s insecurities to come out, and when that messes with Chizuru being able to keep up her persona in public, her real, more brash personality comes out and the two of them but heads . After some hijinks, Kazuya realizes he’s been pathetic by forcing his insecurities onto her, and while Chizuru is sympathetic to his lonliness, she seems to have plenty of her own problems to deal with and the two resolve never to meet again until it turns out that Chizuru also happens to be attending the same college as Kazuya.

So one thing I liked about this premiere is that compared to the average rom-com or harem lead, Kazuya comes off as kind of a jerk, and some of the resentment he shows through the episode both towards Chizuru and himself made his character feel pretty believable without having him go full on incel, and as a lonely single dude myself, I could at least relate to him on some level with his self-loathing, even if it didn’t exactly make him likeable. I also appreciated that the show actually seemed to be pretty aware of his behavior and while he is given some sympathy in regards to his whole relationship with his grandma, he still has to own up to taking his resentment out on Chizuru when she was just doing her job, and Chizuru herself comes off as fairly three-dimensional, and while we don’t know the reasons behind her doing this kind of job, the show doesn’t seem to think less of her for it so far. Really my main problem here is that the story this premiere tells actually feels pretty self-contained, and the healthiest thing for Kazuya probably would be to move on from his ex and never see Chizuru again so the fact that it seems like both those things are being chucked out the window is a good sign this show doesn’t have quite as much self-awareness as I’d like, and is likely out to be as spicy as it probably can from this point forward. I guess that could be amusing in it’s own way and the fact that the characters are at least kind of interesting right off the bat, gives this a little bit of an edge over other harem rom-coms. but if the show’s already tossed aside the best possible outcome then I can’t say I have much confidence it’ll be worth sinking time into. I might give this another episode or two to see where it goes and the premiere was pretty okay overall, but I don’t have much confidence later episodes will wow me.

Rating: Decent

Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out

Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!

Synopsis: To Uzaki Hana, nothing sounds worse than being alone. That’s why she’s made it her mission to keep her upperclassman Sakurai Shinichi company. The problem is, all he wants is some peace and quiet!

First Impressions: I’ve been seeing Uzaki-chan memes swirling around the internet for the last couple of years (well that and the whole weird story with the blood donation poster of her from awhile back) and that made me a little curious about that. I kinda wish I hadn’t indulged that curiosity though because this show is very not good. The basic run down involves Uzaki hanging out with her grumpy MC-kun sempai in college who’s kind of a loner, and her simultaneously annoying him with her loud antics while distracting him with her gigantic boobs. That’s uh…kinda supposed to be the joke I guess. I say “kinda” because I watched about 13 minutes of the first episode, and all 13 of those minutes were painfully unfunny. There’s no real comedic chemistry between Uzaki and MC-kun, and as a pretty anti-social dude, the way she rags on him for being a loner just kinda feels more mean-spirited than it is funny, especially since he seems like a pretty okay dude otherwise who’s just trying to live his life. This pretty much leaves the only appeal being Uzaki and her giant tracks of land, and I’d normally be all for big boobs as a single straight dude, Uzaki’s character design literally looks like what would happen if an artist drew a 12 year old and slapped giant boobs on her, and combined with the fact that Uzaki has the annoying personality to match, it makes all the “jokes” surrounding her huge knockers feel more uncomfortable than sexy and it only increased my desire to tap out of this show early. I guess the one thing I could say in this show’s favor is that Uzaki has some pretty good smug faces, and I can see why they’ve spawned so many memes, but they sure as heck aren’t worth sitting through the rest of this for, and I was both bored and annoyed enough by the halfway mark that I couldn’t muster the energy to continue. I’m sure there’ll be folks who find this show funny, or at least have fun with all the smug Uzaki faces, but I can’t say I’m one of them. I’m out.

Rating: Bad

Gibate

Gibiate

Synopsis: In 2030, people in Japan are turning into different forms of monsters based on their age, sex and race. The illness is named ‘Gibia’ – after being rich in variety like gibier. A pair of samurai and ninja appear in the blighted wasteland of Japan. They both travelled from the early Edo period, fighting together with help from a doctor who tries to find a cure for Gibia. Facing ceaseless attacks from Gibia, and outlaws that attack travelers for food, they start the dangerous journey with enemies all around.

First Impressions: This is the other big co-production from Crunchyroll this season next to The God of Highschool, but I hadn’t heard nearly as much about it going in. About all I really knew was that this show featured character designs by Yoshitaka Amano of Final Fantasy and Vampire Hunter D fame so I was curious what this would look like. Unfortunately after checking out the premiere, I can’t quite say the show looked “good”. Amano’s character designs of course look pretty distinct, and while there isn’t an immediate appeal to the character designs, they certainly stand out enough and have a lot of detail to them. The problem however, is that the rest of the actual production can’t compensate, and while the backgrounds look nice enough, the animation is extremely limited with a lot of speed lines and close-up shots that make the whole thing look unpolished. It doesn’t help that on top of that, the 3DCG used for the monsters sticks out like a sore thumb, and however cool Amano’s initial 2D drafts of them might have looked (and we do some of what was probably the original concept art for them at one point in the episode) the show certainly doesn’t do them justice and it just adds onto the production woes. That basically just leaves the story which takes place during the aftermath of a giant pandemic. Given the current state of the world, that does make this show’s premise a little timely, or at least it would be, aside from the whole thing about time travelling samurais and the virus here turning people into giant bug monsters. This isn’t to say that any of that is bad and it’s a decent enough premise for an original action show, but since again, show looks kinda janky outside of Amano’s character designs, that doesn’t leave this with a whole lot of appeal. and the characters all feel a little basic for this type of story. I can’t exactly say I hated this premiere, and under normal circumstances I might give it another episode or two to see how it pans out, but considering how much it looked like it was going to melt in the first episode alone, I don’t have much confidence this show’s production will hold through, and it doesn’t have enough going for it quite yet to make it worth putting up with those production problems. It’s likely this’ll get a dub since it’s a Crunchyroll original so maybe I’ll check it out that way, but between the two I’d say The God of Highschool is probably the one to watch

Rating: Bad

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