The Summer 2015 First Impressions Collection

No review this week. Instead, I’m going to be using my Monday slot to talk about the new anime season so far.

Just to make it clear, I am officially retired from episodic blogging and the like (aside from my comments on the Nihon Review forums). These days, I like to look at an anime on this blog after I finish it (or get as close to finishing it as possible) like I do with films and leave the constantly weekly analyses to other people. And since I like my reviews to be a surprise, I try not to spoil too much of what I think, even on Twitter. Still, that doesn’t mean I can’t tell you guys what I’m watching right now along with some pre-thoughts. So let’s get to it. Here are my thoughts, roughly arranged in order from most enjoyable to least enjoyable.

Gangsta


I pegged this anime to be the most potentially interesting of the bunch pre-season and so far, it’s succeeding at that. Unfortunately, if these first two episodes are anything to go by, Gangsta is going to be nothing more than a solid show at best. That’s not a bad thing, or even all that unexpected given how Manglobe at its best has always been a bit of a “good without being great” studio. Still, I’d really like a unique take on the criminal lifestyle.

Ushio and Tora


Until this anime actually gets to the parts of the manga that people love so much, I’m just going to watch this with a slightly amused expression. Whilst I enjoy the 90s throwback just fine (except for the humor, which quite frankly annoys me in its dated nature), that’s going to mean nothing without a proper hook, and so far this anime doesn’t have anything in that’s more than watchable at best. Slow burners, man.

(giant gap in-between)

Gatchaman Crowds Insight


I’m still not sure what people love about Crowds. It’s not a bad show or anything. I just don’t think the melding of superheroes with current technology is pushed as hard enough as, say, Tiger and Bunny’s melding of superheroes with crass consumerism. And guys, can we at least wait until Insight kicks into gear before we start showering the praise? I know you guys loved the first season, but new installments should stand on their own.

Red Haired Snow White


Yes, this show is pretty standard as shoujo romances go, especially ones in a fantasy. But you know what? I could use some standard shoujo in my life, and given my recent track record with Bones as of late, this might be just what I need to temporarily forget how crappy their stories generally are. Split-cour format sends warning bells, but I’m more likely to finish a two-cour anime when there’s a break in-between seasons, so we’ll see whether that’s a good thing or not.

Charlotte


As expected from an anime written by a visual novel writer, this show has too much setup without much story to compensate. But more than that, I’m not a big fan of how the superpowers are being used in this show. Being a metaphor for puberty and humanity exploiting said powers and such is kind of expected from the genre at this point in time, and it doesn’t help that the characters aren’t all that interesting. I don’t dislike any of them – although I question the little sister’s existence – but aside from when the main acts like a narcissist, their characterization is kind of off.

God Eater

Whilst I appreciate that it doesn’t talk my ear off, God Eater is not dragging me in at all. It’s not K-levels of “style over substance”, but I don’t like how video-gamey everything is, and whilst the visual style is unique, it’s also kind of boring and janky. The action is clunkily executed, the slow-motion is just plain awful, and the story/characters have no identity whatsoever. Feels like I’m watching an Attack on Titan-clone if you removed all the reasons you’d want to watch Titan apart from the actual setting.

Rokka no Yuusha


Generic story with generic characters, generic fights, and generic exposition. Not terrible, but reminds me too much of a crappy JRPG to really care about it.

Prison School


At this point, I’ve probably seen more than ten of Tsutomu Mizushima’s shows. And to this day, all I have to ask is one question regarding his popularity: why? He never makes me laugh. Prison School never makes me laugh. I might as well be watching some real 80s prison movies if this is the best tribute you can do for the genre in this day and age.

Ranpo no Laplace


I’ve seen some bad mystery stories, including Guy Ritchie’s mediocre Holmes adaptations, but this adaptation of Ranpo’s works has got to be even more gimmicky than that. At this point, I’m pretty much in this just to see if it’ll get to Umineko levels of insane. But not likely, considering even freaking Battler was more charismatic than anyone of those mouthpieces this show calls “characters”.

Durarara!!x2 Ten


I didn’t like it when Monogatari had tons of meaningless dialogue without story progression. I didn’t like it when the Type/Moon franchise goes on crappy go-nowhere spiels. So why the heck would I like it when Durarara does it? Snore.

Monster Musume


Wasn’t aware of the manga’s popularity beforehand, so I mostly ignored it until I saw its position on MAL and tons of positive word regarding the premiere. Can’t say I see the appeal personally. None of the sex jokes have any bite and the whole mood is really saccharine. People say that the world of demons will be explored later, but all they’re doing is reminding me of Shuffle when they say that, and not even Jerry Jewell voicing Rin could save that show.

Symphogear GX


You know that Kung Fury movie on Youtube that got popular a month or so ago? I thought it was kinda bland. The Symphogear series, let alone GX, isn’t any better.

Gate


I’m just going to copy and paste what I said on the Nihon forums for this:

Strike 1: This is a military story. Worse yet, it’s ALSO a high fantasy story. Two genres I have absolutely zero interest in whatsoever.

Strike 2: The fantasy side are a bunch of idiotic one-sided douchebags and the military side is just incompetently executed.

Strike 3: The action sucks balls. Not Arslan bad, but a bunch of explosions out of nowhere whilst the “war is hell” music plays does not make for exciting action.

Strike 4: This is going to be 24 episodes long. A-1 in general has problems with pacing in their one-cour shows. Their two-cour ones are just way too slow for me.

Three plus one strikes and you’re out, Gate. Not watching anymore of you.

Dirty Jokes


To be honest with you guys, I don’t know why I’m watching this show. It’s all talk, and I mean that both figuratively and literally.

Overlord


Ignoring the fact that this is another light novel adaptation with an MMO setting (hard to do given how many of them there are), I could see Overlord working if it wasn’t so dry in its execution. The animation is minimal, there’s no drive to the whole “lonely guy wastes his life in a shut-down game” premise, and the show won’t let us know anything about the main, making it hard to care for his self-defeating journey into MMO hell. Maybe this will change later on now that the setup is out of the way, but until then, it’s getting ranked pretty low.

Chaos Dragon


Whilst I don’t share the overwhelming “worst anime this season aside from maybe Logos” reaction that some people have with this show, Chaos Dragon is still really freaking boring. Worse than that, it’s incredibly incompetent in oh so many ways. The exposition and designs are too bland and busy, the action and animation are garbage, and the story is even more generic than Rokka no Yuusha. And just to hammer the nail in the coffin, it’s even more of a gimmicky mess than Ranpo. That’s pretty bad.

Classroom Crisis


Why am I not surprised that Bobduh likes this show to the point that he’d pick it up for weekly ANN reviews? I admit the setting looks nice, but everything else about this show is so f*cking awful, and it’s pretty bad when MAL is agreeing with me on the matter. What is the point to all this shit you’re throwing at us? What is going on? Why am I forced to sit through long long LONG scenes of pointless exposition and world-building that has nothing to do with the story? Who are these characters? Why am I supposed to care?

School Live!


Not watching this in a million years. Get your “deconstruction of cute girls” and “last-minute twists” away from me Lerche, because I’m not interested.

*****

Overall, a meh season with some potentials from the manga adaptations. Only one of these shows I dropped is Gate (technically Symphogear as well, but I never had any intention of watching it anyways), so even though a lot of people complain about how crappy this summer is compared to what’s come before, I’m still watching way more anime than I did in previous seasons. A bunch of these shows are squished together on the same day, so my Wednesdays are mostly anime-free. I’m still working out some reality stuff so I don’t know when I’ll get to using that day for my other projects, but I really do want to get another Porno Watch out sometime.

24 responses to “The Summer 2015 First Impressions Collection

  1. The three leads and world in gangsta are efficiently done enough and having read the manga up to date I feel it amounts to fun, light, gritty entertainment but nothing particularly impressive.
    I want to enjoy ranpo for its macabre atmosphere and weird lead, but the comedic bits and dull presentation keep taking me out of it.
    I get un-intentional laughs out of how horrible symphogear is, but I’m not ready to waste any more time on it.
    Monster musume had some novelty value initially but I felt it wore off fairly quickly.
    Red hair snow white is one of my picks this season, it takes me back to the days when I first started watching anime/reading manga.
    I recall Urobuchi was involved with chaos dragon and it further makes me less convinced of him as a writer.
    I am tempted to take a chance on charlotte, because, at least Kishi is not directing it.
    Theres probably some good to say about Gakkou gurashi but I read all what was available for it and just couldn’t get into it. Prison school just disheartens me because I know the author is capable of so much better.

    Technically its not totally porn but it does fit the sex/erotic drama quota, could you do a watch of nymphomaniac?
    I noticed you’ve enjoyed Von Trier films before.

    • Urobuchi has less to do with Chaos Dragon than McFarlane has to do with Family Guy these days. I’d blame the main writer, Sho Aikawa, for its problems. He has one or two good anime, but the rest of his works have been known to cause cancer.

      Porno Watch is just hentai for now. Live-action stuff is a possibility that I haven’t decided on yet.

  2. Actually, for porno watch you can always do a caligula review, you loved that one and I think it was fairly recently you saw it.

  3. Ranpo Kitan’s second episode has to rank pretty high in “weirdest anime shit I watched”. Not even Detective Conan had such contrived logic – yes, maybe someone was killing people left and right using overcomplicated Rube-Goldberg contraption that would never work in real life, but at the very least the motives and the deductions made sense. “My teacher called me” + “My grades are okay though” = “My teacher was in love with me and wanted to confess (and not even, like, rape him, since he’s a freakin’ pedophile)” has to be one of the wildest syllogisms I’ve ever witnessed.

      • Some say this is supposedly faithful to his “erotic grotesque nonsense” spirit. Wouldn’t know if that’s the case, but I don’t think that can include also completely jarring and random tonal shifts, mysteries kept as such by hiding key facts from the reader and then pull them out of some character’s ass later, and indecision as to which genre he was writing altogether.
        Though if they do, then yes, this is indeed a perfect adaptation of his works.

  4. I don’t get how you can criticise Charlotte for having too much setup without ‘story’ when the two are so clearly linked. Not only have we had multiple inciting incidents from which Yuu must now advance, but the anime is also simply following a traditional structure wherein the first two episodes set up the greater plot hook that will come in the third episode (hence the 3-episode test being incredibly useful for a one-cour show), as Urobuchi and Kuroda have championed in the past. How is the show’s setup not implying a great scope for plot and character development?
    I also don’t get how following the expectations of a genre when using fantasy elements is automatically a bad thing, since those expectations are grounded in the realism that the genre is trying to reflect, and the viewer’s immediate access to that benefits empathy to characters and situations.
    Fair enough if the characters aren’t to your liking – that’s just down to taste, since they’re definitely scripted with both explicit and subtle traits that have already complicated them significantly – but these judgements on the story’s design don’t seem to have any basis of criticism on the show itself, not any I can see anyway.

    • the anime is also simply following a traditional structure wherein the first two episodes set up the greater plot hook that will come in the third episode

      Yeah, I’m not a fan of episodes devoted entirely to setting things up. It worked better in the first episode since it was getting the main character into the school and dealing with teenage troubles amongst all the talk, but here it’s just establishing what will come later along with capturing some random super power guy that will most likely never be brought up again. Didn’t like it when Madoka did it either.

      The characters aren’t interesting to me right now because the show hasn’t given them any sort of story I can sink my teeth into yet.

      • Fair play if you’re just not a fan of the structure, but it’s certainly a model that a lot of people connect with. I really like how the show is using characters who we may never see again – Yumi, the thoughtographer – in order to quickly establish the complexity of the characters and their mission. Some shows take a lot longer to world-build and still don’t get this kind of scope going.

        I think the main thing Charlotte has going for it is that we’re already very familiar with the world and cast and yet it feels like anything could happen next episode.

    • but it’s certainly a model that a lot of people connect with.

      Pretty sure you know this, but this blog isn’t exactly run by said “lot of people” if you know what I mean.

      Some shows take a lot longer to world-build and still don’t get this kind of scope going.

      Hence why it’s relatively high compared to everything else on this list.

  5. Lenka reminds me of the less annoying Eren.
    Chaos Dragon is just, chaotic quality wise. I am unimpressed with the character design.
    Charlotte looks like a less humorous AmaBuri.
    Game of Laplace is Hyouka on weeds with a sociopath trap.

    I only like Shirayuki hime and Gangsta so far but these two are too tame to be considered top tier.

    • Yeah, unless Ushio and Tora’s legendary arcs are really that good, I don’t expect to be rewatching any of the anime on here any time soon.

  6. On another note, Gakkou Gurashi had a pretty strong opening episode, but it artistry is something you’d appreciate less if you’re already expecting the ‘deconstruction of cute girls’ stuff, so I understand the poor impression made there.

    All I saw was cute girls and a horror tag and thought it would be pretty daft, so a lot of my praise for it’s opening, despite getting bored by the slice-of-life antics in most of the episode, comes from how shocked I was at the end that the characters actually had a lot of depth, a lot of which you could only access in hindsight as the show aims to make you miss it. Such directing made for a dull watch in-the-moment however, which for some people will be enough to make its twist seem pointless, and I can both criticise and sympathise with that reaction.

  7. Gate isn’t a war action show. Random explosions are not going to be a huge thing. It’s closer to fantasy action like Sword Art, except with guns and a main character who is not a marty stu. I don’t think you’d like it regardless, given what you tend to enjoy. That’s fine. I’m just letting you know that the first couple episodes aren’t going to give the best grasp of what’s in store, and are going to set up most of the characters, world, and a bit of action.

    The huge thing this has over Sword Art is that the setting is actually explored more, and Itami isn’t some perfect, god mode character. The females carry most of the power in the series. That said, there’s an arc that occurs that drags down the series a bit, since it focuses on some politics(which is not the author’s strong suit) and has a couple of cringe worthy moments. I had come to like the characters a decent amount, so I was able to get over it, but I won’t fault people for finding it too bad to stomach.

    People are going to expect some harem antics, and that’s really not going to happen. It may occur later in the light novels(doesn’t sound like it), but GATE tends to not focus on that all too much.

    Working should also be somewhat interesting, if A-1 animates a certain scene that’s in the manga(seems that they will). Actual status quo change abound. Don’t want to spoil more.

  8. Sounds like you’re having a blast there, old chap.

    You might consider opening a ‘anime isn’t good like it used to thread’ – for once someone could back up the claim!

    I don’t watch seasonals, though. I wonder if I’ll ever get around any of these. I hoped Gangsta would be filled with rap references, but nothing said it did so it went down the list.

    A lot of anime pull the MMO-based storytelling now. We need these kind of stories. Video games as a theme are absent from too much canonical books/movies. I hope anime can pull a few good ones.

    God Eater is a Fear Factory song.

    • You might consider opening a ‘anime isn’t good like it used to thread’ – for once someone could back up the claim!

      When was anime ever good?

      A lot of anime pull the MMO-based storytelling now. We need these kind of stories.

      I hope anime can pull a few good ones.

      Not when they come from light novels.

  9. The awfulness of Classroom Crisis is something that everyone can agree on.
    Judging from the title, I thought that there will be some real crisis, but wtf!
    So what if they are disbanded? Aren’t they prodigy? It’s the company’s loss if they are disbanded. The other company will employ them.
    It’s a crisis with no real consequences.
    Oh, that guy is an illegitimate child, and his brothers tried to get rid of him for sometime now. Only that he’s a prodigy too.
    Ok, we have a bunch of prodigy now, but where is the villain?
    Are the villains the one who sit inside dark room, with business suits. That’s the worst choice in writing a fiction.

  10. So far, Gangsta, Snow White, Charlotte, Ushio & Tora & Rokka no Yuusha are the most interesting to me.
    Classroom Crisis is that popular? it felt average to me.
    Watching God Eater’s first episode felt like a chore. Stuff was happening but it never gave me a reason to care about anything.
    I care about Chaos Dragon as much as how it values its characters’ lives; not much.
    Laplace seems like it’s more about the bizarre deaths than the solving of them and I don’t think it will be as over the top as Umineko was because most characters are too carefree and hardly disturbed by the gruesome murders and, like you said, they lack charisma.
    Overlord could be interesting but I wonder if we’ll ever see what the main dude’s life was like outside the game. I doubt it.

    By the way, I noticed that you haven’t mentioned the second season of Miss Monochrome at all. Did your opinions on it change?