Summer 2013 First Thoughts

9fgCe3OSummer is here, and the scorching new season has anime titles both new and continuations lined up for us. We have quite a mixed bag this time round: there’s more head-turning Shinbo x SHAFT love, more hoop-shooting cute lolis and *GASP* half-naked, pool-loving men by Kyoto Animation just for the ladies. Indeed, “hot” seems to be the befitting theme of the summer, but ironically the season has so far come off with a lukewarm start. Even if there aren’t any outstanding series right now, it’s still too early to judge so let’s just see how the series we’ve handpicked have fared so far.

Introduction by: AC

Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!

Shadowmage‘s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: C+

This is a show where your mileage will vary wildly depending on how socially awkward you were (or are) during your school years. Watamote is a comedy about a person who is completely and utterly socially crippled. As in any hope of being normal has been smashed, burned and ground into little tiny irrecoverable pieces. It’s actually kind of uncomfortable how inept the main character can be, and there are moments that are not really funny but just kind of sad. However, it’s a very earnest show that does not trivialize or cheaply exploit the vulnerabilities of its protagonist.

Rozen Maiden Zurückspulen

TIF‘s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 5
Initial Impression: B+

If you’re still here after that first episode, then you are being rewarded! But, really, that first episode was God awful. Why they just didn’t do that as a “zero” episode I can’t fathom. I realize it was important to get people caught up after a long hiatus, but Jesus Christ. Don’t cram an entire year’s worth of anime in 22 minutes, folks.

Anyway, as a completely different direction and delicious twist on the familiar from the earlier seasons, Rozen Maiden has left me eating popcorn at a furious rate and awaiting the next episode. If not for that first episode, I’d have graded this an A- at least.

Monogatari Series: Second Season

AC‘s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: B

Nekomonogatari: Kuro was quite a decent follow-up in the Monogatari series; although not as outstanding as Bakemonogatari, it nevertheless did the series service by putting Hanekawa Tsubasa under the spotlight. Second Season brings her character exploration a step further, this time without male protagonist Araragi Koyomi in sight. Hanekawa has always been a profound figure, and this show is demonstrating further just how complexed her personality and relationship with her alter ego really are. While it hasn’t been amazing so far, it’s still a breath of fresh air to see her solve her own problems and hopefully we get to see a massive standoff between her and the mysterious antagonist.

uchoutenkazoku

Uchouten Kazoku

Shinmaru‘s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: B

It took a couple of episodes for me to warm up to this series, but now I’m all in. This series builds its relationships and interactions with a subtle touch such that feeling out how many characters relate to each other on a personal level takes a bit of work and attention. That is fairly refreshing for anime. The relationships feel all the warmer for the work the viewer must put in for them to truly click, because it feels as if they know these characters all the better. I’m also really interested in the way the series is weaving in the patriarch’s story and how his presence is still strong in the tanukis’ family even after his passing. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I enjoy the look of Uchouten Kazoku, which is really unlike any P.A. Works series I’ve seen. It’s quite charming.

Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C³-bu

Click‘s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: C

C³-bu really straddles the line between boredom and fun. The survival games are usually very enjoyable, but once the BB guns drop out of the equation, the series is about as soul-crushingly dull as a visit to the DMV. However, when Yura’s imagination starts to take over, the gunslinging goes on to a whole new level, whether it be a full-on assault on an enemy base or shooting coins at target practice. There’s enough to enjoy here, but don’t be expecting any GAINAX gun-related brilliance on the level of FLCL’s Brittle Bullet.

Brother’s Conflict

TIF‘s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 5
Initial Impression: D-

I have a lot of admiration for this show. I admire how not a single character deviates from standard archetypes. I admire how our main heroine is as interesting as dried out gum. I admire the author’s willingness to stay within a basis of reality by having a talking squirrel perform its natural tendency to cock block. I admire shirking tedious and boring societal and cultural norms like wanting to fuck your new stepsister within minutes of meeting her. I admire how being sexually harassed, felt up, and full-mouth kissed by her siblings has no effect on her whatsoever. But, I simply can’t forgive making a lame pun with the title. “BroCon”? Ruined everything, hence the grade.

Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen

Reckoner‘s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: C+

Skipping ahead of several chapters to adapt the most popular storyline of the entire manga, this new season of Kami Nomi is nowhere nearly as well adapted as its previous two seasons. The pacing is rapid, sometimes condensing like 8 or 9 manga chapters into an episode, and there are new characters around that were introduced in a flashback at the beginning of episode 1. Did I forget to mention that you had to see a critical OVA for the series to even begin to understand what’s going on? The basic fact of the matter here is that if you enjoyed previous Kami Nomi seasons, you will enjoy this one too, but it’s nowhere near as well produced.

free

Free!

Click‘s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: B+

Without a doubt the show that managed kick up the most preseason buzz, Swimming Anime drew in the attention of fujoshi and KyoAni fans alike months before airing. Each cast member of Free! looks like a natural Adonis, sculpted out of (buoyant) marble by Michelangelo. However, Free! is anything but shallow: each episode has something to say about the nature of talent, whether it be the responsibilities of the talented or the loss of agency that comes with it. Even outside the pool, Free! manages to excel with self-referential comedy, good cast chemistry and fluid animation. Easily one of the better offerings of this season, Free! proves that you can have your beefcake and eat it too.

Blood Lad

Shadowmage‘s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: B-

If you’re in the mood of a light hearted shounen romp, Blood Lad should be in your weekly roster. The show harkens back to the more simple days of shounen where the characters go on a grand adventure full of wacky characters and situations unencumbered with overbearing seriousness. In short, it’s more One Piece than Naruto. While there’s nothing particularly special about the show, there’s a certain charm in watching a territorial vampire boss going bonkers due to his deep fascination of Japanese culture.

Kiniro Mosaic

TIF‘s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: B-

Diabeetus. Nothing more, than pure, concentrated, diabeetus. Check your insulin levels before snorting this Pixy Stix, or you will die of sugar-shock. I, personally, had to have my left foot amputated after four viewings and I really don’t know how I am going to survive this. Some of you with weak hearts should also avoid, as the moeness has been known to dramatically increase the likelihood of sudden cardiac arrest. On a non shit-posting note, I want to give them credit for using copious amounts of Engrish, except that the people from “England” sound like they’re from Ohio. Was a Cockney accent too much to ask? Meh, small beef.

lovelab

Love Lab

Click‘s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: B

One of the bigger surprises of the season, Love Lab manages to provide a good mix between comedy and cuteness. I’ve got a soft spot for teenagers who want relationships but have no idea how to have them, and Love Lab manages to scratch that itch nicely – a lot of the comedy takes the piss out of romantic comedy clichés, but it never feels too cynical or too jaded when taking its jabs. Each episode moves at a brisk pacing, so the jokes come in one after another, keeping the show from ever getting boring. If you want a cute, well-animated show to laugh to this season, Love Lab will deliver.

Silver Spoon

Reckoner‘s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: B+

Silver Spoon is one of the must see titles of the season if for no other reason than it being an adaption of a manga written by Hiromu Arakawa of Fullmetal Alchemist fame. Yet, Silver Spoon is nothing like Fullmetal Alchemist; it’s a fish out of water story that takes place in an agricultural high school. Despite this, it is remarkably enjoyable and comforting. For ignorant city dwellers like myself, the whole show feels like a learning experience, and its down to earth world is an absolute pleasure. If you were ever a fan of Fullmetal Alchemist’s characters and humor, and don’t mind a different type of story, you will love Silver Spoon.

il sole penetra le illusioni ~ Day Break Illusion

Shadowmage‘s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: C-

I think the creators of Day Break Illusion are confused about the success of Madoka Magica. It’s not that people started wanting grimdark in their magical girl anime; Madoka is successful because it shocked audiences with something completely unexpected. At this point, horrific violence in an ostensibly cutesy magical girl show is passe, predictable and unnecessary. If Daybreak Illusion had something new to contribute to the genre, it may been worth its salt, but as it stands, it’s a fairly generic magical girl anime with some very dark elements sprinkled in.

Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyou - ED - Large 02

Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyou

TIF‘s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 5
Initial Impression: D IS FOR DOG!

MAN LIKE BOOKS. MAN GET SHOT. MAN TURN INTO DOG. AUTHOR-LADY ADOPTS DOG. AUTHOR-LADY CAN READ DOG MINDS. AUTHOR-LADY LIKES SCISSORS. LIKES TO CUT DOG. FUNNY! DOG NO ACT LIKE DOG. DOG NO SNIFF BUTTS. TIF CONFUSED BY DOG. TIF CONFUSED BY AUTHOR-LADY. TIF CONFUSED BY PENCILS. WHAT PENCILS DO? SHOTGUN-GUY LIKE BOOKS MORE THAN SHOTGUN NOW. KNOWS KUNG FU. EDITOR-LADY FUNNY. SHE GET HURT INTEN.. INTENTI… LIKE LOTS! SISTER-LADY SCARY! TIF WANT CHAINSAWS! WHERE TIF PUT BRIAN PILLS? BRIAN HURT NOW. WHY SHOW HERE? TIF NO UNDERSTAND. TIF WANT PLOTS. TIF WANT FAN-CERVIX. NO LIKE DOG SHOW. DOG SHOW NEEDS BE GUD OR TIF BRIAN HURT MOAR.

Danganronpa: The Animation

Reckoner‘s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: C-

Do we need any more proof that director Seiji Kishi should be banned from videogame adaptions? No, I never expected anything extraordinary from Danganronpa, but this production is exceptionally poor. Although the main appeal of this show is solving the murder mystery cases, a combination of excessive cuts to the source material and a poor presentation of clues completely rob the joy of trying to solve the mysteries on our own. The jacked pacing also ensures that we never grow any sort of meaningful attachment to the character on screen. This could have been fun, but it just feels quite lacking.

Gatchaman Crowds

Shinmaru‘s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: B

Gatchaman Crowds is a series with a lot of interesting ideas slowly coalescing into a whole. There’s the social media angle, the idea of heroism, communication, reliance and technology, and on and on. The main problem for me at the start was that I didn’t find any of the characters all that compelling, but that’s changing as more details leak out. I really like the hints that the events aren’t a totally black and white affair; while director Kenji Nakamura is definitely picking at the sentai genre with this (and probably in more ways than I even know), it’s not completely “Hajime is in the right and everyone else is totally in the wrong.” There are gaps to be bridged with everyone. And like with everything Nakamura, the art direction is fantastic, even when the show itself animates like crap.

Servant x Service

AC‘s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: B

Servant x Service is pretty much for those who love Working!. The show depicts the daily lives of quirky civil servants in a mundane government office and explores their funny antics that a lot of us working adults can relate to. Unlike Working!, the cast in Servant x Service are more down-to-earth and relatable, and although they all belonging to the usual character archetypes, the interactions between them are nevertheless hilarious. It’s a slice-of-life that shows how the most boring workplace can have the most interesting people, and if it can keep its humor up, this may just end up being my favorite comedy of this season.

sundaywithoutgod

Sunday Without God

Reckoner‘s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: B

Let’s face it, Ai is not the most terribly interesting main character around and she runs the risk of being simple loli bait at times. However, the appeal of Sunday without God is not its characters, but the setting, which is by far the more interesting aspect. Boasting some pretty decent production values, this eerie world is truly brought to life by studio Madhouse. Each episode has no trouble immersing the viewer, and it continues to be filled with fascinating mysteries and story developments. My only worry going forward is that the scope of this work seems too large for 12 episodes.

Hyperdimension Neptunia

TIF‘s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 3
Initial Impression: Big Bouncing Double D’s!

I am not the target audience. I know because I DON’T HAVE A RHESUS MONKEY’S COLON’S WORTH OF SHIT IDEA WHAT IS GOING ON HERE. There’s some girls, and they’re CPUs, or princesses, or something, and they turn into different (and hotter) versions of themselves There’s slime-dogs, and loli licking giant gold dinosaurs, and something about console wars and market shares, and my brain just farted. On the positive side, there’s a bunch of ridiculously hot girls, fetish fuel for everyone, and I have fallen in love with the giant pair of gazongas featured in the ED. Brings me to a new definition of “Nintendo Hard”, if you know what I mean. So yeah, some good, some good.

Genshiken Nidaime

Shinmaru‘s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: C+

There’s something getting in the way of me really enjoying new Genshiken to the fullest extent — I just don’t find the new cast all that compelling other than Hato, who dresses as a man everywhere but the Genshiken club, where he acts as one of the ladies and finds both acceptance and friction. By far the most interesting episode leans heavily on former club member Madarame, who can’t quite separate himself from the old club as he struggles in his new life as a salaryman. It’s a nice bit of self-aware irony going on for both the show and audience. Even with my problems, though, there’s plenty of laughs; the life of otakus still has potential for humor, especially as the show focuses that much more strongly on women.

7 Responses to “Summer 2013 First Thoughts”

  1. Gatchaman Crowds is a Nakamura series!? That completely slipped my mind. No wonder I like the series so much, the themes are totally him. Also, I suspected the music was by Iwasaki …

  2. Much as I’d expect, mediocrity all around this season.

    Lol’d at TIF’s Dog and Scissors review.

  3. No first Impression for Fate/Kalied Liner Prisma Ilya despite there being a picture? I dont see any reason why, other than ‘nobody wanted to do it’.

  4. @Pebble

    It’s not that no one wanted to do it, but one of our contributors wasn’t able to make it to this posting. Yes, I know it’s awkward! Sorry :p

    I’m sure if TIF is around though he can provide you some commentary on it. I’ll make sure we say something about it in the Mid Season Impressions, which because we were so goddamn late here will probably be coming soon.

  5. No first Impression for Fate/Kalied Liner Prisma Ilya despite there being a picture? I dont see any reason why, other than ‘nobody wanted to do it’.

    I’m sure if TIF is around though he can provide you some commentary on it.

    MOEtan only not fucking terrible. Grade: A-

  6. Such a brutally bad season with practically zero good news surrounding it. If I had to assign an over all letter letter grade to it it would probably be a D+ or at best a very grudging C- . At least it’s half over now and Fall will be upon us before we know it with what look to be much more interesting offerings for everybody.

  7. Summer season tends to suck. This is not a new thing.

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