Monday, July 15, 2013

First Impressions: Summer 2013 Anime Season

This is one of the best anime seasons in recent memory. It has everything. Comedy, drama, robots, animal abuse, deadly lolitas, etc. I have around 20 shows to cover so you know the deal -- this will be quick and dirty. Most of these impressions are based on one episode. This means my opinions could (and probably will) change. After all -- Angel Beats started off great and then turned into one of the most disappointing anime ever.


SYNOPSIS: A group of 15 elite high school students are gathered at a very special, high class high school. To graduate from this high school essentially means you'll succeed in life, but graduating is very difficult. The school is presided over by a bear called Monokuma, and he explains to them that their graduation hinges around committing a murder. The only way to graduate is to kill one of your classmates and get away with it. If the other classmates discover the identity of the killer, the killer is the only one executed. However, if they fail to catch the killer, only the killer graduates and the others are annihilated. Which of the 15 will survive the bloodbath to come?

MY THOUGHTS: This is supposed to be a serious death game/murder mystery anime, but I can't take it seriously thanks to its character designs and antagonist. The characters look like they belong on a Saturday morning cartoon, and the villain is a stuffed animal. Oh and the blood is neon pink. (RATING: 7/10)


SYNOPSIS: The Fujisaki Girls Academy is known for their school body being composed of very proper students. The most prominent one of them is Maki, the student president who is admired by her classmates for her calm and polite demeanor. On the other hand, Kurahashi Riko is also admired but for having a very forward and boyish personality. Riko accidentally walks into Maki while she's practicing kissing with a pillow and learns that she isn't what everyone thinks she is. Riko is forced into keeping Maki's secret and join her in practicing all aspects of romance like holding hands and more.

MY THOUGHTS: Love Lab is a great comedy. Maki and Riko have great chemistry. They'll give up on finding boyfriends, and settle for an unspoken yuri romance. "They were looking for love, but they found friendship." I can see the ending. (RATING: 8/10)


SYNOPSIS: Yura Yamato has just arrived at the high school division of Stella Women's Academy, when Sonora Kashima invites her to join a club called "C ". Sonora is the third-year student who became the new head of this club for military survival games. The other members include two second-year students (part-Japanese Karila Hatsuse and G36K-wielding Honoka Mutsu) and two other new students (Rento Kirishima whose family runs a Japanese sweets shop and the really short Yachiyo Hinata).

MY THOUGHTS: Girls with guns -- do I need to say more? I'm not in love with this one (It's average at best), but it could turn into a decent time waster. (RATING: 7/10)


SYNOPSIS: Jun Sakurada, a middle school shut-in refuses to go to school after being traumatized by an embarrassing incident at school. One day, he receives a letter asking "yes or no", and chose "yes", meeting the living doll Shinku and the events of the original Rozen Maiden series unfolding. However, what would have happened if he had chosen "no"? Although he overcame his shut-in nature, this Jun can't find a place where he belongs. Then, Shinku suddenly appears in this world where "Rozen Maidens" aren't supposed to exist; what will their new encounter bring?!

MY THOUGHTS: "Boys can play with dolls too!" I'd say that whenever my mom would find me with my sister's Barbies. Rozen Maiden takes things to the next level, though. These dolls are alive, and the main one is beyond bossy. Honestly, this isn't bad, but it's just not my cup of tea. (RATING: 6.5/10)


SYNOPSIS: Anime about the staff of the health and welfare section of the ward office of a certain city. Newcomers Hasebe Yutaka, Yamagami, Miyoshi Saya, and their supervisor Ichimiya Taishi go through the everyday quirks of working at their office.

MY THOUGHTS: This is like an adult version of Working. Things start off a little slow, and the old lady jokes are already getting old, but this is worth a look if you're looking for a comedy that doesn't take place inside of a school. (RATING: 7.5/10)


SYNOPSIS: When a friend asks Natsuki what high school club she's going to join, she cheerfully responds "the go-home club" (meaning, she's not going to join any of them). However, she soon realizes that this club actually exists at her high school, and she's just expressed interest in joining it! Before she knows it, she ends up as one of the two new members of "the go-home club," which is a small group of eccentric school girls. One of the girls likes fighting bears, while another is ridiculously rich. But what exactly constitutes the activities of "the go-home club"?

MY THOUGHTS: I hate Natsuki's hair! That piece of hair on the top of her head is too big! Besides that I don't really have anything else to say about the Chronicles of the Going Home Club. It's not bad, but nothing makes it stand out (besides the bad hairdo). (RATING: 7/10)


SYNOPSIS: The story revolves around Haruka Nanase, a boy who has always loved to be immersed in water, and to swim in it. Before graduating from elementary school, he participated in a swimming tournament along with his fellow swimming club members, Makoto Tachibana, Nagisa Hazuki, and Rin Matsuoka. After achieving victory, each of the boys went their separate ways.

Time passed, and in the middle of their uneventful high school lives Rin appears and challenges Haruka to a match, showing Haruka his overwhelming power. Not wanting it to end like this, Haruka, gathers together Makoto and Nagisa once again and brings a new member named Rei Ryugazaki to create the Iwatobi High School Swimming Club in order to defeat Rin.

MY THOUGHTS: Girls may be Free's target audience, but it's more than a toned body and a pretty face. Check it out if you're a real manor a giggling fangirl. I'm giving this the micro-review treatment. You can read my reviews for the first two episodes . (RATING: 8/10)


SYNOPSIS: The second season of the Monogatari Series.

MY THOUGHTS: Fans of the Monogatari series will love this, and everyone else will be bored to tears, again. Weird camera angles, random conversations, fanservice, etc. Everything that made Bakemonogatari amazing is here. Well, except for Araragi. We're two episodes in and he's still nowhere to be found. (RATING: 8.5/10)


SYNOPSIS: Kuroki Tomoko is a super popular, high school girl who has had 50 years of dating experience and 100 boysin the Otome game world. In the real world, she is a 15-year-old shut in who has all of the qualities of a "mojo" (a gloomy or unpopular woman).

However, when school isn't going as she expected, and she isn't as popular as she had thought she was, she takes a look at herself in the mirror for the first time in a few years, and has some shocking revelations

MY THOUGHTS: This is funny and depressing at the same time. You'll laugh at Tomoko's misfortune and then immediately hang your head in shame. It's like when someone falls -- you feel bad for laughing. This already puts this above every summer comedy. Watamote is a must watch. (RATING: 9/10)


SYNOPSIS: Staz is the vampire boss of a section of the demon world, but he has little interest in human blood. He's more infatuated with Japanese culture. When he learns that Yanagi Fuyumi, a Japanese teenage girl, accidentally wanders into the demon city, he jumps to the occasion. However, while Staz deals with an intruder on his turf, the oblivious Fuyumi is killed by a monster and becomes a wandering ghost. The disappointed Staz vows to her that he will find a way to bring Fuyumi back to life.

MY THOUGHTS: Blood Lad is another supernatural comedy. The set-up is interesting, but the first episode was just okay. Hopefully things will get better once they go to the human world. (RATING: 7/10)


SYNOPSIS: The story begins with Oomiya Shinobu, a 15-year-old, seemingly pure Japanese girl who actually did a homestay in Great Britain. Even after coming back to Japan, she still misses her time overseas. One day, an airmail letter arrives from Alice, the girl in Shinobu's host family in Great Britain. The letter reads: Shinobu, I'm coming to Japan! The Japanese/British girls' mixed comedy follows the lives of Shinobu, Alice, and other girls from both Japan and Great Britain.

MY THOUGHTS: Cute multi-cultural girls doing cute things. The first episode was entertaining, but it featured too much Engrish. Seriously, the Great Britain half of the first episode was like nails on a chalk board! (RATING: 7.5/10)


SYNOPSIS: A nonsense comical mystery. Harumi Kazuhito is a high school boy who loves books and is a fan of novelist Natsuno Kirihime. One day, he finds Kirihime writing at a cafe, about to be shot by a robber. He protects her from the attack but is killed instead. Through the supernatural power of a book-worm, he is reincarnated as a dachshund dog. Kazuhito (as a dog) writhes in a painful bookless life, when a sadistic woman carrying a pair of scissors offers him help. She is Kirihime herself.

MY THOUGHTS: Does PETA have Japanese offices? We never see any actual animal abuse in the first two episodes of Dog & Scissors, but animal lovers won't be amused by Kirihime's antics. I have to hand it to whoever came up with this story, though. It's random as fuck, and I'm enjoying every second of it! (RATING: 8/10)


SYNOPSIS: In Kyoto, there are three kinds of residents: humans, tanuki, and tengu. Shimogamo Yasaburou is the third son of the Shimogamo tanuki family. His father, Souichirou, had been the head of Kyoto tanuki community until he was eaten by the human members of "Friday Club". While taking care of an old tengu, fighting with other tanuki, and playing with a psychic human girl, Yasaburou approaches the truth of his father's death.

MY THOUGHTS: I fell asleep while watching this, really. I normally love everything P.A. Work touches (besides Angel Beats), but I found this incredibly boring and hard to follow. And what's with those ears? (RATING: 6.5/10)


SYNOPSIS: This is Gamindustri. Beings called the Goddesses rule the countries of this unreal world. The four Goddesses govern four states: Planeptune, Lastation, Lowee, and Leanbox. For many long years, these countries fought each other over the Shares, the source of the Goddess power.

However, fearful that the conflict would pointlessly erode their countries' strength, the Goddesses signed a Friendship Treaty forbidding them from taking Shares by force.

Under the treaty, the Goddesses and their younger sisters took a step forward to a new stage in their relations. It was the dawn of a new, dynamic era marked occasionally by shared laughter, disputes as well cooperation.

MY THOUGHTS: I reviewed the last two Hyperdimension games and this anime adaption perfectly captures their spirit and tone. I wasn't impressed by the animation, though, and it could leave newcomers to the series a little confused. On second thought -- the games' stories are confusing too so scratch that! (RATING: 7/10)


SYNOPSIS: Since ancient times long past, this world has been ruled by two tarot cards.

Diablos Tarot--The tarot of the devil that feasts on the souls of living humans and uses that nourishment to bring countless pain and suffering.

Elemental Tarot--The tarot that draws its energy from the power of nature in order to oppose the Diablos Tarot.

Girls chosen from 22 different bloodlines become the wielders of the Elemental Tarot, plunging themselves into this secret battle. To maintain the balance of this world, while carrying unbearable guilt

Are they executioners? Or saviors? This is the story of the long, long battle fought by girls who cannot escape the fate they bear.

MY THOUGHTS: Cute girls doing horrible things. This is Madoka all over again. Adorable girls, brutal deaths, creepy talking animals, etc. Basically it's amazing. (RATING: 9/10)


SYNOPSIS: Spin-off of Fate/stay night with Illyasviel von Einzbern as the protagonist, living an alternate life as a school girl.

MY THOUGHTS: Okay, okay, are you just looking for a normal magical girl anime? Then this Fate/Stay spinoff has your name on it. So far it looks pretty straightforward. No blood and guts here -- for now. (RATING: 7/10)


SYNOPSIS: The story is set in Japan in the early summer of 2015. 180,000 people live in Tachikawa City, the "second metropolis" of the Tokyo area. Among them are "Gatchaman"--warriors who fight in special reinforced suits powered by "NOTE," the manifestation of special spiritual powers in living beings. A council has scouted a group of individuals with latent powers to protect Earth from alien criminals. In recent years, the council has assigned Gatchaman warriors to deal with the mysterious entity known as "MESS."

MY THOUGHTS: I loved the first episode of Gatchaman Crowds. The animation, music, character designs, and suits are perfect. This anime has style to spare and it's another must watch. Especially if you like shows like Tiger & Bunny and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. (RATING: 9/10)


SYNOPSIS: The third season of The World God Only Knows.

MY THOUGHTS: The World God Only Knows: Goddesses Arc is also getting the micro-review treatment. You can read my review of the first episode . (RATING: 8/10)


SYNOPSIS: This original story revolves around cute dolls who fight and power up with special cards.

MY THOUGHTS: This could've easily turned into another harem, but Fantasista Doll's creators did something unexpected. They put a girl in charge of a team of life sized dolls. Bravo, not bad, not bad at all. (RATING: 7.5/10)

Thanks for reading, and let me know what you're watching this summer.
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