Don’t blink because it’s mid-season now and you know what that means. Time for your favorite
elitist jerks NHRV staff to cut, twist, and dissect all your Summer 2012 anime! Like many past Summer seasons, there’s a fairly modest assortment of shows out there. A few rough gems have been uncovered, but there is just as many duds. Some anime have continued to impress, and others seem to have faltered. We hope our mid-season impressions can help guide you on your way. So without further ado, let’s get started shall we?
Introduction by: Reckoner
Kylaran on Dog Days’ after 7 episodes
Very rarely does a sequel, particularly one for a shounen harem set in a magical world, outdo its predecessor, but Dog Days season two has done just that. Particularly with the introduction of Nanami, Rebecca, and Pastillage, the cast feels far more fleshed out and balanced compared to the first season. Seven Arcs may not get the best scripts to work with, but their animation quality is unbelievably good, with the utmost care given to every single scene be it spells, clothes, or the occasional bits of skin.
I stressed this in my review of the first season, but the voice acting is absolutely spectacular. On top of well-known voice actresses reprising their roles for a second go, the current airing features notables Aoi Yuuki as Couvert and Kitamura Eri as Adelaide (starting episode 6). If you appreciate the finer aspects of voice acting, there are tons of ear-candy here for you to enjoy with a cold glass of Coke on a warm summer evening.
TypicalIdiotFan on Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse after 8 episodes
Thanks to the forum thread for Total Eclipse, I realized that I’ve spent so much time complaining about the world building and setting that I didn’t realize that this show also blows ass in just about every other way possible. I don’t know if there is a single positive thing going for Total Eclipse right now. The animation is subpar, both in the CGI renderings and the regular character animations; the characters suck, being both shallow and horribly cliched; the story is a mess, expanding a very simple plot about testing a new mecha to ridiculous locales for the sake of fanservice; and the writing sucks, with each episode featuring pedestrian dialogue and trope heavy setups and resolutions. Not even the music is that good, though I must admit I find the intro catchy and the exit pleasant enough.
Judging any two-cour show based on only 8 episodes might be unfair, which is why I am going to watch this until the end no matter how shitty it is. I feel like I owe it to the show to at least make it through the whole thing, considering how much bitching I’ve done about it.
AC on Kokoro Connect after 7 episodes
A series that looks like a crossover between K-On! and Friends, it didn’t really capture my attention much from the onset because I was concerned that it would rely too much on the body-switching plot device without having a story to tell. Fortunately, I was wrong: through the plot device, the characters’ idiosyncrasies are fleshed out and I begin to see the chemistry between them. And now, things are looking more interesting than before when the new agenda at hand concerns unleashing their inner desires and exposing their personal issues as a result.
The show is steadily becoming more interesting by the episode, but if there’s one thing it could’ve done without, it’s the presence of the mysterious entity-antagonist Heartseed. It’s an unneeded supernatural/sci-fi element in a story where the main focus could’ve just been on the interactions among the five main characters and not on figuring out Heartseed’s motives. It’s just something unnecessary when the show is indeed proving to be one of the better ones of the season.
Reckoner on Tari Tari after 8 episodes
For an anime that plays it so safe I am continually surprised by just how enjoyable Tari Tari continues to be. There is nothing terrible complex about it, everything is rather simple and straightforward, but it manages to be remarkably endearing with its cute, funny, and lively cast. I was concerned going forward if PA Works could manage to keep it up as historically they have a track record of shows that drop off in quality tremendously after initially wonderful charts, but fortunately so far, it seems we will not have to suffer another Hanasaku Iroha or Another. PA Works has nailed a fun and enjoyable experience.
However, I do not want to portray this as a flawless show. It really bothers me to no end that Tari Tari is on a long list of offenders who fail to adequately develop its male characters. Such unbalanced character development is a glaring fault for a show that has otherwise been pretty entertaining. If there is no real intention to sufficiently develop the male cast, the show should not even have male characters in the first place. It’s better than portraying them as bumbling idiots.
Shinmaru on Binbougami ga! after 7 episodes
My basic feelings on the series haven’t changed much. It’s still wonderful when it focuses on pure physical comedy and conflicts between characters who loathe each other. The show’s sense of comic timing is still strong much of the time. I’m liking the new character, Rindou Ranmaru, even the plot of her intro episode — a hurried version of a She’s All That type of story — is lame. The dramatic moments are still OK at best and annoying and distracting at worst. In an ideal world, everything would be a set-up for great jokes. What’s wrong with being funny all the time? Binbougami ga! is still funny enough that I’m having a good time watching it, but its attempts at drama limit its ceiling.
Kylaran on Moyashimon Returns after 7 episodes
Moyashimon has a special place in my heart for personal reasons, and this second season certainly hasn’t let me down. It’s got the same humor and interesting tidbits to share with viewers, while at the same time giving quality treatment to the role of microbes in the story. I didn’t give the character designs much attention in the first season, but I can say that Haruka and Aoi fit their parts incredibly well at the moment.
At the same time, it’s clear that Moyashimon’s emphasis on the daily lives of its characters gives it growing pains: the recent arc with Haruka’s departure doesn’t feel as genuine as it could be. The series very much needs to start focusing on the bigger issues (Tadayasu’s relationship with Yuuki, for example) in order to take its place among good anime.
Reckoner on Natsuyuki Rendezvous after 7 episodes
Essentially Natsuyuki Rendezvous is a story about a guy who is trying court a woman who cannot get over her husband’s death while that same husband’s ghost spends his time obstructing their developing relationship. This has been a rather aggravating show to watch; there is just a certain tedium present when the entire resolution of the show rests on the idea of people being able to move on from someone’s death. Moreover, I have probably seen few series as low-key as this one. Its flat tone puts a damper on the dramatic atmosphere and makes it hard to stay engaged.
Another issue here is that the characters are not terribly sympathetic as they are often extremely insensitive to each other.This creates a problem here because this kind of series requires the audience to be emotionally involved. It’s hard to feel for characters you don’t particularly like. Now I don’t want to make it seem like I hate Natsuyuki Rendezvous, I still find it decent enough, but for josei Noitamina block shows there is a pretty high standard in place and I feel this does not quite measure up.
TypicalIdiotFan on Campione! after 7 episodes
Campione! is basically a combination of two completely unrelated genres crammed together with all the force of a runaway 18-wheeler. At the core, we have a fairly typical shounen battle anime, complete with special techniques and powers, and nakama willing to stand by our hero’s side until the death. The other core, though, is basically a harem. When I said that the nakama are willing to stand by our hero’s side until the death, I also mean they want to ride his cock. In a lot of ways, this makes Campione! feel like a copy of Daimao, and I didn’t care for that pile of shit either.
I should be fair, I’m not really hating Campione! at the moment, but I am not exactly enthralled by it either. The story is often disjointed and incomplete, giving us virtually no background on a key figure within the most recent episodes. While I understand this happened in the light novels as well, it seems a bad choice for a TV series. Likewise, the characters are a mixed bag of irritating cliches. Our hero, for example, might as well be Kamijou Touma with his endless speeches about ethics and morality.
Shinmaru on Joshiraku after 6 episodes
My biggest concern about Joshiraku was that it would be too Japanese for me to enjoy — that’s not a bad thing, of course, but if I’m not getting the references, then what is there for me to laugh at? However, Joshiraku has achieved a superb balance of cultural humor and general weirdness that has had me laughing harder each week. The part I like most about the series is how the scenarios end up in totally different places than where they began. It’s definitely similar to Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei (Kouji Kumeta penned both manga), where the verbal antics of the characters follow twisted lines of logic that end up in hilarious, unexpected places. I’m totally sold on this show now.
Eternal on Sword Art Online after 7 episodes
I’m not going to lie: I have problems with Sword Art Online. To be fair, I’m not a fan of fantasy and I haven’t read the novels, but the premise of SAO seemed to show promise. What bothers me the most is that despite the originality of the setting, the characters instantly revert to tried-and-true personality archetypes and roles. If the players are all supposed to be real people in near-future Japan and their characters share their real world appearance, why do they look and act like RPG characters? Merchants and blacksmiths are gruff middle-aged men and the heroes are, predictably, teenage anime heroes. SAO cheapens its own setting and turns it into a gimmick. It’s more an RPG than a story about people playing an RPG.
Oddly, I don’t think the episodic format is hurting the show thus far, although I’d like to see a central plot emerge soon. While episodic adventures might be nice for world-building, they seem to be drifting closer to harem territory by introducing (and removing) new girls each week, furthering my original point that the show is a standard fantasy anime with a vaguely different coat of paint.
Kylaran on Dakara Boku wa H ga Dekinai after 7 episodes
Let’s be honest. This show is terrible. Not only is the story your stock computer-generated fantasy harem, the animation is horribly inconsistent to the point where recent episodes have seen significantly less detail paid to the symmetry of character faces. Viewers may have been initially attracted to the girly embarrassment of lead tsundere Lisara or the delectably mischievous seductions of Ilia, but the girls have been forced to bare their nipples so many times I doubt anyone really bats an eye their fanservice anymore. To make up for this, the show seems to be getting more and more risqué each episode.
BokuH only seems to provide viewers with something enjoyable when it decides to raise the bar art-wise and create intricate, colorful settings. Yet it does this so infrequently, I might as well go watch BakaTest or something.
Shinmaru on Humanity Has Declined after 8 episodes
I love any show that follows up using time travel as an existential hunt for one’s identity with a pun as dumb as “time paradogs.” That is Humanity Has Declined in a nutshell for me. It’s quite cynical behind its cheerful veneer, but I don’t get the feeling that the show hates its characters, even ones who are outwardly foolish like Y. The stories have cultural commentary; however, they’re just as willing to be silly and entertaining. Among the jabs at contemporary society, the show does some pretty damn subtle stuff with the small details — track the sundial in the latest arc, and you’ll get a surprising, nearly unspoken story that took me a while to clue in on. I’m really looking forward to what Humanity Has Declined will pull out of its hat as it nears its conclusion.
Eternal on Yuru Yuri S2 after 8 episodes
Yuru Yuri S2 is easy to summarize if you’ve seen the first season because it’s essentially more of the same. While the manga is (surprisingly) not a 4panel strip, the pacing nonetheless resembles shows like K-ON with rapid punchlines and an adherence to the straight man/funny man format. What’s great about Yuru Yuri is that it cuts the fat. That might sound like an odd description for a more or less plotless show that relies on fluff, but content and fluff take on a different meanings when we’re talking about comedy. Yuru Yuri cuts to the chase and features well-paced, easy-to-understand humour that plays off of the characters’ exaggerated quirks, and it dodges the death traps of forced drama and fanservice. It’s cute and obviously thrives on moe appeal, but nothing pulls it away from its main role as a fast-paced character-driven comedy.
Having said that, it’s worth mentioning that some of the gags have grown stale since the first season, but the show often creates more interesting variants when this happens (the latest episode with Chinatsu’s drawings is a great example of this).
Reckoner on Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate after 6 episodes
It took a while, but with the introduction of the school election’s political machinations, Koichoco finally managed to make itself at least somewhat distinctive. Still it is surrounded by an overwhelming large amount of common visual novel tropes executed in the most uninspiring of manners. There is nothing wrong with trying to build off staples of a genre, but a work should never feel like it was copy and pasted from somewhere else. Because of this, KoiChoco is definitely much more interesting when it focuses on its political aspect rather than its galge side. Regardless there is hardly enough interesting content so far to cover the sheer mediocrity of it all. The basic fact of the matter here is if you are comfortable watching generic galge anime 101, you are right at home. Otherwise all you have here is a piece of generic trash.
TypicalIdiotFan on Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere II after 7 episodes
I already had my gripes with the first season basically requiring the viewer to have a PHD in the Horizon universe through the light novels, but the second season might be taking it up a notch. While this can work if the series provides clues or hints to fill in the blanks for novice viewers, Horizon doesn’t give a damn if you’re aware of the nuances or not. The result is that I don’t give a flying fist fuck when they try to do anything tense or dramatic. I don’t know who these characters are, and when I do, I don’t care what’s happening to them. Hell, I’m not even sure that there is even anything happening to them at all.
As for the show itself, the plot is fairly straightforward, with the issue being the ambitions or motivations of the characters is completely lost. The animation is good, the fights look neato, and there’s a lot of creativity with the setting, mixing in the familiar and the alien to create a bizarre environment. One thing I am not a fan of is the character designs, which push the “balloon tits” a bit far for my tastes.
AC on Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru! after 5 episodes
I never really liked the show. From the onset, it felt like I was watching an animated series based on a dating sims where all the girls belong to the usual archetypes. And truly enough, the girls are indeed nothing but archetypical: you have the goody two-shoes, the loli-tsundere, the uptight chick, the ditz and the senior. And of course, the male lead is almost always the Mr. Nice Guy whom the girls would flirt with around the clock.
The plot can be interesting, however; it pulled off a rather effective plot twist in episode 4, where the overarching agenda came to a premature end. It really got me, showing that the series may have a few tricks up its sleeve. I’m just worried if it becomes a one-trick pony and uses the same trick for the rest of the girls. Until then, I think everyone knows that this is a deliberately stupid, run-of-the-mill harem show.