One more month, give and take a few days, and we will be free from classes and exams for what seems like a glorious eternity once more! No better time to get out of the country, go to the beach or the mountains, ride your bike, read a book, work on your figure or meet up with some old friends. Don’t worry, I’m just kidding. Of course we are all going to stay locked up inside and watch shady Japanese cartoons! What better way to get you all hyped up for those is there than by complaining about them based on a summary and some promo art? I thought as much. Here’s my quick thoughts on the Summer 2013 anime season, based on this here chart. Thank you, Neregate!
Will this season mark the not-so-glorious return of Gonzo to mainstream anime? With none other than Shigeyasu Yamauchi, the controversial director of Casshern Sins, Yumekui Merry and episode 5 of From The New World, they might just stand a chance… that is, if they had decided to go with any other manga to adapt than A Town Where You Live (Kimi no Iru Machi). Based on a generic love triangle manga that has been going on for ages now, I am exceptionally surprised it took someone so bloody long to adapt this. Best known for its rage-inducing romantic drama, constant conflicts, misunderstandings, fanservice and refusal to just bloody end already, Kimi no Iru Machi is particularly liked by the French for some insane reason. The self-obsessed drama of shoujo meets the glacial pacing of shounen? Sounds like my kryptonite. Besides, I really could not care any less about bland Japanese school boys and their love lives anymore.
Fear not, however, because they also still have another show in the pipeline: Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyo, a show about a guy who is turned into a dog and ends up with a mysterious girl who loves abusing him with a pair of scissors. Get it? Japan loves to associate dogs with abuse, a tradition which probably stems from parents abusing their children by telling them melodramatic stories about dogs, like Hachiko or The Dog of Flanders. I really don’t need another light novel adaptation about abuse, but at the very least, the scriptwriter previously worked on some episodes of Durarara!! and Steins;Gate. Still, does that really tell us anything?
Speaking of abusive undertones, Servant x Service is this season’s contender for “least appropriately titled anime of the season”. Boy, we sure are mature, aren’t we? Anyways, Servant x Service — *snrk* — is based on a 4-panel “comedy” manga by the author of Wagnaria!!. Admittedly, that one was pretty fun, and Servant x Service shows some promise with its setting and cast full of actual adults. Sadly enough, the director seems like a complete hack and the guy in charge of writing is not even known yet. In the same category, there are Kin-iro Mosaic, a show that will probably be all about how Japan thinks being foreign means having blonde hair, blue eyes and three shots of Red Bull every day, and Love Live, a show the summary of which literally adresses its characters by their archetypes. There is not trying at all, and then there is that.
Did you think three four-panel manga adaptations was enough? You silly boy, it’s the summer season! Have another one! The rather unfortunately abbreviated Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku luckily is not about a bunch of Japanese high school girls joining the Ku Klux Klan. In fact, it is just another show about a bunch of high school girls joining some random club doing nothing at all… with a twist! The “Kitakubu” in the title literally means “go home club”, which is a Japanese slang term used to indicate people who are not in any club and go home right after classes end. So that makes this a show about girls in a club that doesn’t do anything not doing anything. Whoa, that’s deep. Equally bizarre seems to be Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C³, or C³ Club for the sane of mind, some sort of wacky hybrid of moe slice-of-life and badass action. Gainax being in charge doesn’t mean jack shit anymore, but I love the sketchy promo art for this show, and the premise could actually make for a pretty fun action comedy. I am intrigued. I mean, how can you resist this trailer?
After some experimenting with two-cour shows and rerunning a show that didn’t deserve a rerun, noitaminA returns to its slice-of-life-with-actual-adults formula with Silver Spoon, a neat and warm looking show based on the manga of the same name. Penned by the author of Fullmetal Alchemist, Silver Spoon has more than one thing in common with a personal favourite of mine, Moyashimon, though seems to focus more on the broader topic of argiculture rather than being oddly fixated on teaching you completely pointless trivia on bacteriae and alcohol. It’s not the kind of show you usually see on TV, so this could turn out to be my kind of show alright. The same can be said for Uchouten Kazoku. Based on a novel by the creator of The Tatami Galaxy, this story about a forest-dwelling family of shape-shifters in a world where human live together with all sorts of mythological creatures looks to be another off-kilter dramedy with unconventional character designs. I, for one, welcome our new hipster overlords.
Of course, in terms of defying expectations, there is very little that can beat Free! Only rarely do we see a project being announced that so explicitly dares, and judging by some of the reactions, Kyoto Animation seems to have created just the kind of hype they wanted. While they are anything but perfect, KyoAni’s slice-of-life shows still carry a certain charm few others can replicate. The announcement of Free! was a brilliant troll move, yet I have no doubts KyoAni will actually deliver on it as well. As always, I expect a fun, casual show with little real ambition, but at least the decision to kick girls out of the cast was a leap compared to the baby steps away from the cute girls doing cute things formula that Love, Chunibyou and Other Delusions and Tamako Market were. Bring on those yummy boys.
Free! is far from the only show next season with dashing gentlemen, though. Brother’s Conflict is basically Baby Princess, only with dudes and not in 3D, and therefore infinitely better yet still nowhere near worth watching. The token supernatural action show with pretty boys slot belongs to Makai Ouji: Devils and Realist, a rather complex, gothic tale helmed by Chiaki Kon, who has made a name for herself directing exactly this kind of shows. On the other side of the spectrum, there is It’s Not My Fault I’m Not Popular, that seems to be set on warning girls not to watch too many shows with pretty boys in it. Based on the enjoyable low-budget manga about the misadventures of otomege addict Tomoko Kuroki, I cannot imagine WataMote being anything but a series of flash-animated five-minute shorts. Seeing some of the jokes voiced and animated could be fun, but I really don’t see why I should bother with these five minutes when I can read the manga in even less.
What else is oddly fashionable this summer? Magical girls, apparently. If I end up watching Gen’ei O Kakeru Taiyou (The Sun Penetrates the Illusions), you can be damn sure I’ll insist on calling it by its pompous Italian name, Il Sole Penetra le Illusioni. I won’t watch it, though, because despite an original art style, this looks like the world’s most generic magical girl show this side of Precure, made by a bunch of hacks. Equally bleh looks Futari wa Milky Holmes, although I must I admit that I completely adored the two seasons of Detective Opera Milky Holmes. They were completely bonkers, absurd fun, and one of the very few anime I still find legitimately funny, despite operating entirely on the tried-and-true formulae of slapstick and people being massive idiots. Futari wa Milky Holmes, however, is a Milky Holmes played straight, a sequel to the boring-as-heck Alternative OVA that showed the Milky Holmes girls being actual magical girl detectives working together with a blank slate of a male protagonist (who had been cut from the previous two seasons) to solve actual mysteries. Sherlock, Cordelia, Nero and Elly being competent? That’s about as big a betrayal as making Haruhi Suzumiya a nice girl.
Still, could be worse. At least Futari wa Milky Holmes is still roughly about the same thing as the first two seasons were. The same cannot be said of Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma☆ Ilya, a spin-off the existence of which has baffled me to this date. The fact that this is getting an anime just pisses me off. A shameless cash-in spin-off centred around a character that is nothing more than a villainous, backstabbing psychopath, suddenly being turned into a moe icon and embraced by fans I can’t even believe were smart enough to actually understand what the heck happened in Fate/Stay Night. Filled with fanservice and generic school antics, Prisma Ilya has absolutely nothing to do with the franchise it will leech its popularity off. Let’s hope it indeed lives up to its name and never becomes more than a mere liner note.
Do not panic, though. If you are desperately craving for some magical action, there are plenty other shows that will fill your quota and not get you arrested. Blood Lad is the adaptation of a fairly popular seinen manga by Brain’s Base, a company that hardly ever fails to deliver. Nevertheless, I’m having a hard time getting excited for shows like this. They will only remind me of how much better Soul Eater was. Aside from that, there is Fantasista Doll. The fact that no one at Studio Hoods was smart enough to not air this at the same time as that other, way more popular anime about magical dolls, however, proves that I should probably not have the slightest interest in this anime.
In case you did not know, that other, way more popular about magical dolls is called Rozen Maiden. What no one knows, however, is whether this new project is supposed to be a third season or a reboot. I have not watched the original two seasons of every gothic lolita’s wet dream, but if this is indeed a brand-new adaptation, colour me fascinated. The crew looks fresh and promising and having the character designer from Steins;Gate on board is a nice addition. It would be interesting to jump into the franchise by means of a reboot. Heck, I’ll even stomach the deadly cocktail of Studio Deen and Ali Project for it. Speaking of reboots, however, there is another one that looks even more interesting. Following in the footsteps of Casshern Sins, Gatchaman Crowds is a new adaptation intended to reintroduce the seventies superhero icons to an all new audience. With stylish character designs and Kenji Nakamura, the guy behind Trapeze, Tsuritama and Serial Experiments Lain in the director’s seat, this show will prove at the very least an interesting watch. Let’s hope Nakamura can deliver a product that lives up to the legacy of its franchise.
Two other much-anticipated adaptations are Dangan Ronpa and Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation. I have a hard time caring about either franchise for the simple reason that the former is insanely popular amongst the kind of people who live on Tumblr and think Sword Art Online was the second coming of Christ, and the latter is about personified game consoles skipping around in their pants. While I may be a bit too harsh on Dangan Ronpa, any chance I may want to give it is ruined by the fact that super high-school level director Seiji Kishi is in charge, the man who did not even manage to make a proper adaptation of the best video game of all time. Judging from the premise of the original, Ace Attorney-esque game, a proper balancing of tension and comedy seems to be an integral part of Dangan Ronpa and let that be just the thing Kishi is absolutely horrible at. Preferably, I would like to get to know the admittedly pretty interesting looking franchise by playing the game on my own. Go, my biased views, go!
Then there is still a bunch of second seasons to a bunch of shows I do not care about. Hakkenden and Kingdom take the cake for shows that get a second season without anyone watching them, and also Genshiken returns after almost more than half a decade of absence. Another long-awaited return is that of The World God Only Knows. The third season will apparently adapt the Goddesses arc, which is strange because at least two of the main characters in that arc show up in chapters the anime will be conveniently ignoring in order to skip directly to this fan-favourite arc. When I say fan-favourite, that usually means that everyone but me loves it, because I am sick and tired of TWGOK and it’s inability to decide whether it wants to make fun of harem shows or be one. Speaking of shows I am sick and tired of, the Monogatari franchise returns as well, much to my dismay. Call me back when you’re done trying to shove your own head up your arse and start having an actual story to tell, Monogatari. And no, “latent paedophile has to try very hard not to cheat on his sadistic girlfriend with his own sisters” is not a story.
Speaking of paedophiles, the crew of Ro-Kyu-Bu! has somehow managed to escape being arrsted and has churned out another season of creepy drooling over elementary school girls. Another show I wish would have remained in oblivion for all of eternity is Senki Zesshou Symphogear, but no that one is miraculously returning as well, as is my migraine. Five minute shorts Recorder and Randsell, Teekyu and Senyuu, according to experts Yamakan’s best work since the Haruhi ending sequence, return too. In fact, the only return I am somewhat looking forward to is Tamayura, the best slice-of-life show to watch when there is no Hidamari Sketch on air. The new season is inappropriately titled “more agressive”. Trust me when I tell you Tamayura is the least agressive show in the universe.
That quick aside finally brings an end to this hefty post. I hope you enjoyed this post and that it helped you decide on what to watch next season. So what will it be? Make sure to let me know in the comments section. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go stuff this blog back in the dusty bin where’s it’s been lying for the last year or so.