Other anime bloggers gave fair warning and boy were they ever right. This summer streaming line up is packed with quite a few decent titles. Unlike the leaner winter and spring, this summer has some decent shows in the running. And considering that we’re now a few episodes in, let’s see how many I’ve gotten roped into this time.
I honestly believed right off the bat that this show was going to end up as a drop as the first episode is one of the slowest I’ve seen in a long time (and that last few minutes at the end sounded more cliche than tantalizing). But, low and behold, it actually picked up a bit from episode two onward. Although the pacing is still a bit too laid back for the subject matter (seeing the future and such? Didn’t see that coming), the unique twist on romantic slice-of-life is just enough for me to be curious to see what happens next. Which is important in keeping me coming back for more when the characters themselves are a bit bland.
This show is almost exactly what it first apears to be. Cute girls being cute. Moe and little else. However, again, I was a bit impressed. Not by bucketfuls, but enough to keep the ball rolling. The story is of an over zelous Japanese culture lover dragging a native around to dance and said native figuring out, slowly, what she wants out of life and who she is. Simple set up, but the characters thus far are decent enough. They are stereotypes, but at least they aren’t shadow characters that just barely tick off the stereotype checklist and little more. They have personality and legit opinions. It’s not my top show this season, but it’s fun enough to take off the edges of more serious shows.
Samurai Jam – Bakumatsu Rock
Is this a hopelessly ridiculous idea? Pretty much. Samurai using idol pop music to “fight” (seriously Japan. This is pop, not rock, but thanks for playing) instead of swords? Sounds just crazy enough to be entertaining. And while it is a bit amusing, I’m sad to say the cliches aren’t joked on nearly as much as I originally hoped, making this show a walking stereotype depending entirely on it’s basic set up to carry some of the most lackluster characters ever created to the finish line. Suffice to say that I’m an episode or two behind on this one. It’s just not entertaining enough. Not when there are far better shows airing this season. If this show ends up finished at all, it’ll be simply due to my boredom between air dates for other titles.
Sabagebu! – Survival Game Club! –
I fully admit to jumping onto this show two weeks late as, quite frankly, the art and premise sounded just so lackluster I couldn’t bring myself to try it. Then, one bored day, I did. And let me tell ya, I’m no gun maniac, but the main character in this is actually… interesting. She’s a complete sadist, a welcome surprise considering my fear during the first half of the show that she’d be just one more personality-less heroine dragged around by an eccentric club president character. But her revenge loving personally paired with the off-beat side characters has made this a fun ride thus far.
Blue Spring Ride
I was expecting, from the art and tone of the premise, that this show was going to be a sweet, slow romance. And, largely, it is, but blissfully that isn’t all it has going. In fact, the show thus far is more focused on character depth, showing us various characters and their realistic struggles as the main story, with romance only a side result. This is a formula I vastly prefer and I certainly hope the serious elements, such as the love interest’s broken family relationships and world view, are continued and get proper conclusions by the end. Few shows look at the effects of divorce realistically and I would love to see one that really takes this task seriously and doesn’t just treat it as a cheap plot device and little else.
I’ll admit that I have lowered my standards of mecha shows over the years. Although the philosophical dialog ran heavy at times, Gundam Wing was honestly the last full-on macha show I really adored (Rideback was good, but it was a bit… different. I’m not sure it really fits into the mecha section all on its own). The characters and story were just flat out well done. It was interesting, fun, hard to predict and complex. The fact that this anime here takes a ton of cues from the Gundam series is something that is both a boon and a serious crutch. The good part of that is, quite frankly, as flat as a few Gundam incarnations have been, the majority of the classic ones were actually solid shows. So even a shaky imitation will have more life than half of the “original” mech shows that have been coming out lately (I’m looking right at you, Captain Earth). The problem is, of course, the show can never really claim true originality as it preeeetty much just stole all its main plot elements from other shows.
The biggest fall of this show thus far, however, has been the characters. The show is posing as if these characters have distinct personalities, but largely they have just ended up looking dull, lifeless or just dazed by everything. I’m waiting for someone to break down in a mess of crying goo, as would naturally happen when a friend just got killed right in front of you. But… no dice. Unless this show’s characters start pulling their weight, instead of just standing around looking lost, what little potential this show had might end up down the toilet.
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun
I jumped on this show as soon as I heard the idea behind it was a shoujo show that makes fun of shoujo shows. I was all on top of that. Even so, I didn’t expect it to be quite this much fun! By far and large, this show is my favorite this season. The main character is sweet, but no idiot. She is in love, but not blinded. She knows BS when she smells it and her comments and timing can be gut busting, to say nothing of all the crazy characters surrounding her. It also helps that the romance aspect of the show is sweet and not forced, with Nozaki being clueless, but in a easy going, lovable way. This is a keeper for me this season.
Sailor Moon Crystal
You had to know this was coming. Who isn’t watching this show? Oh yeah. Probably quite a few people who never watched the first anime version and are scratching their heads as to how it’s such a big deal because, quite frankly, these first few episodes kinda just… sit there.
See, as someone who got into anime because of shows like Sailor Moon, I fully admit that the appeal of this newest take is largely due to that wonderful feeling of nostalgia. But no nostalgia is heavy enough to keep me from noticing that, as one blogger put it, the guardian of love and justice hasn’t really aged all that well. Sure you could say that the show created the very cliches we see so much in magical girl shows now and thus it was fresh when it was made and can’t be called cliche in and of itself, but come on. Everything comes down to characters and, as of yet, this new version does nothing to make these characters shine, meaning they were pretty much flat to begin with. In fact, the sped up storyline and rushed character intros are making things worse this time around, losing new fans and making most of the largely stereotyped characters even more two dimensional. It doesn’t help that the art is… well, it’s kinda lame. Oh sure, still frames are nice enough, but the movements are horrendous. I feel like I’m watching a visual novel play out instead of an anime (don’t even get me started on the transformations. Ugh).
Considering how many years went into this new version, I’m quite disappointed with how it’s started out. Then again, we’re only three episodes in. I’m willing to give it a few more tries, if not continue on to the end. I can only hope things get better. Because if they get worse… well…
Wow. Eight shows all at once… I feel like I’ve bitten off far more than I can chew, but I’m also pretty happy about the line up overall this time around.
What about you guys? What shows are you into right now? Anything catch your eye?