During the summer one would expect me to be watching a few shows that reflected the return to school grounds. Like frantically trying to get to class on time amongst a mass of sweaty bodies and having feverish nightmares of being tested in Latin pronunciation. Nope. Apparently I prefer to watch shows like Fairy Musketeers, Natsume no Yuujin-cho, Tsuritama and Shangri-La. There’s really no rhyme or reason for it, but they are rather… different from each other.
Fairy Musketeers is one giant sugar cube. Honestly. It’s simply a magical girls show clearly made for very young ages. The story is pretty typical with only the ghost of a mystery behind it (namely where the male lead’s mother is and what happened to her). The basic story revolves around Souta, who is apparently some “key” to another world. The typical attack happens and he is saved by a magical girl called Riding Hood. Adventures ensue, each with some kind of “positive message” attached. Although those messages don’t always make a lot of sense…
Natsume no Yuujin-cho (Natsume’s Book of Friends) is a series that has yet to really end. It currently stands at 39 episodes (like Fairy Musketeers), but rumors say more are on the way. The story follows Natsume, a young man who can see spirits and other non-human creatures that others can’t see. Living in fear and isolation his entire life, Natsume stumbles on a rather informative and kind spirit for a change. And he learns that his grandmother created “The Book of Friends” that has the names, and power, of quite a few spirits. Natsume then takes on the tiring and dangerous task of freeing them from the book, learning about the creatures he meets and his grandmother along the way. Many of the encounters are sad and there’s an overall feeling of loneliness strung throughout the show, but thankfully there are bursts of hope along the way as well.
Tsuritama is kinda straight forward and kinda not. The just of it is a bunch of guys fishing. Doesn’t sound interesting? Well, apparently one of them is an alien and is trying to catch something very dangerous that’s in the sea and fishing is the best way to go about it. All the other guys around him are just along for the ride. The show itself has a very relaxed and laid back feel to it. The art compliments that with bright colors and a pop loving style. It’s humor is very oddball, as are the characters. It’s not a show for everyone, but as it’s also quite short, it’s not hard to breeze through either. And, yes, you will learn a surprising amount of stuff about fishing along the way.
Centering around troublemaker Kuniko Hojo, Shangri-La is a story about the world after various natural disasters have brought it to its knees. In a world where economies depend on being earth friendly, the people of Japan struggle to keep up and many dream of being chosen to enter and live in Atlas, one of the only prosperous and healthy cities left. But not everyone agrees with Atlas and its cruel government ways. As Kuniko finds out, every city has its secrets and Atlas has some pretty dark ones inside its white walls.
All four shows are entertaining, although for widely different reasons. Fairy Musketeers has a predictable plot and mediocre animation, but the story is clean and positive. It’s a great break from the less kid friendly shows of today. Natsume no Yuujin-cho has brilliant animation (odd for longer shows) and a touching story. Tsuritama is a… well… it’s really weird, but in a happy and relaxed kind of way. And Shangri-La has great animation and an extremely interesting plot (though it’s far darker stuff than the previous shows mentioned).
While the first three may not be typical shows to be watching back-to-back, they’re surprisingly good and wonderfully free to watch via Crunchyroll (as of posting). As for Shangri-La, you can only get a taste of it right now as FUNimation has posted the first five episodes for free viewing via their site and YouTube. Here’s to hoping the rest of the series works out!
[Note: Crunchyroll isn’t hip to Japanese, it seems. Thus Natsume no Yuujin-cho is spelled with a single instead of a double “u.”]