Better late than never, right? This is less of a start-of-the-season round-up of my choices, and more of a progress report now that we’re a little more than quarter of the way through the summer. My list is woefully long despite my crazy summer schedule that includes a ton of family and friend events in the weeks and days leading up to my wedding. I’ve only been able to keep up thanks to my daily commute which takes up almost two hours of my time every work day. There are plenty of gems this season across multiple genres to pick from, and below are my choices in alphabetical order:
- 91 Days
- Amaama to Inazuma
- Arslan Senki (TV): Fuujin Ranbu
- Cheer Danshi!!
- Days (TV)
- Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 3rei!!
- Fukigen na Mononokean
- Love Live! Sunshine!!
- Mob Psycho 100
- Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin
- New Game
- Planetarian: Chiisana Hoshi no Yume
- Shokugeki no Souma – Ni no Sara
91 Days (3 eps. currently watching)
A Prohibition Era, mafia, revenge story sounds like just the suspense to fill my darker inclinations. With Gangta. having broken my heart with its ending, and Baccano! having aired far too long ago, 91 Days comes at a good time when nothing else really compares in this genre. I’ve always been fond of mafia-esque stories; I remember watching The Godfather movies with my mother and her telling me that family trumps all other obligations. I want to see how far Avilo will go to pay back the parties responsible for his family’s slaughtering. Just in the first episode alone, I’ve seen some disturbing signs of his corruption and wouldn’t be surprised if he betrayed his close friend in the name of justice.
Amaama to Inazuma (4 eps. currently watching)
I cannot express how touching I find this story about a young father and his daughter struggling to live after the passing of his wife. Her absence is mostly reflected in this anime in the lack of home-cooked food and family dinner. Without her expertise on cooking and Kouhei’s busy career as a teacher, little Tsumugi eats pre-packaged bento for lunch and dinner almost every day. Many of those meals are eaten alone in front of the television. Kouhei starts to notice a problem when the pre-made food starts being returned unfinished and his daughter gives over-the-top reactions to the mere idea of actual cooking. So many little kids I know would seemingly be happy eating McDonald’s every day, or frozen chicken nuggets at home, so the fact that Tsumugi talks about “tasting” the ingredients and even marvels at the flavor of freshly-cooked rice is pretty astounding.
Luckily, Kouhei meets a student whose mother runs a small restaurant, and she happily welcomes him and his daughter into her home for dinners together. I desperately want this scenario to stay innocent, and for the show to not tread into the territory of eventual romance between him and this student. If anything, I’d wish for him to maybe meet the student’s mother and for them to form a close friendship. For now, I’ll enjoy the precious moments of them cooking and eating together.
Amanchu! (4 eps. currently watching)
Fans of ARIA rejoice! Another work of Amano Kozue has found its way to the screen: Amanchu!, a story set largely on water focusing on diving instead of gondola. There’s lots of familiar territory here other than the setting. “Pikari” stays buoyant to the extreme, covering her insecurities with frantic whistles. She’s the epitome of seeking out the good in every situation. The art style of the anime defies the vibrancy of most other shows, opting for thinner lines that provide more delicate expressions. Despite that soft touch, we still have plenty of Kozue’s caricatures: Pikari’s almost frighteningly large smile and Teko’s black swirls for eyes. The show goes almost too far with the goofy looks, but I can easily forgive it. And with wedding on my mind this summer, I immediately zoomed in on the mermaid silhouette the girls wear for uniforms. In ARIA, the style fit, but here, I find it oddly formal for high school girls. It’s a bit over the top for symbolism when we already see the girls in diving suits. Regardless, they are pretty, and I can’t wait to learn more along with Teko about the basics of diving.
Arslan Senki (TV): Fuujin Ranbu (2 eps. currently watching)
Curses on short seasons! We’ll only be getting eight episodes of Arslan for its second season, which is a real shame given all the other shows graced with full seasons, some of them more, with far less interesting material. Funnily enough, I suffered this same pain with the exact same short number of episodes for the recently released Netflix series, Stranger Things. At least I’ll be forced to hold off week to week with Arslan instead of marathoning it and regretting it.
It feels like every time Arslan and his supporters move five steps forward, they’re forced back four. It’s maddening to see his successes almost immediately overshadowed by more obstacles. This time, the big problem is his tenacious father who escapes on his own and quickly takes control of Arslan’s army. Never mind how ridiculous the notion is that Andragoras’ bodily fluids were able to weaken his chains over time, or that he had any semblance of strength after such a long period in the same position. The threat still feels pretty damning after all this time spent with Arslan watching him build loyalties and respect.
Battery (3 eps. currently watching)
My search for the next great baseball anime is still ongoing. The disappointment that gutted me with Daiya no Ace still lingers, and I’m not 100% sold on this season’s baseball offering of Battery. The assumed ace here is a transfer student with a chip on his shoulder and the mystery of an injury threatening his future as a baseball player. He’s moody and covers up his insecurities with a repugnant cockiness that would turn away most people. Lucky for him, he has a fantastic little brother who looks up to him, parents who care about his health, and a prospective new friend who might turn out to be the perfect catcher to his pitching. I’m honestly sticking around right now more out of curiosity about his emotional growth than anything else. I want to see him encourage his little brother. I want to see him admit his weaknesses to himself and his friend. I want to see how he’ll find his spot in a place that stamps out diversity in favor of tradition. It’s these types of wishes that give me hope about the direction of this show.
Cheer Danshi!! (4 eps. currently watching)
I really respected the cheerleaders at my high school, and later in college. Watching them doing their gymnastics and stunts always impressed me. I’ve never been flexible, and I have never done a flip–not even on a trampoline. Until I watched Bring It On, I thought cheerleading was a female-only sport. Once I saw how men brought their own strengths to the table, I started to prefer watching co-ed teams. Cheer Danshi! goes the next step over and proposes the idea of a male-only cheer squad, and I’m pretty excited to see the stages these guys will take to support their university.
Days (TV) (5 eps. currently watching)
As a one-time soccer player, I feel obligated to watch every one of the few soccer anime that air, no matter how mediocre they may be. Fortunately, Days looks to be a gem with its old-school feel and never-give-up attitude. We don’t have any of the flashy character designs or animation from the currently popular series like Haikyuu! or Kuroko no Basket. The art is simpler, and the personalities more relateable. I’m reminded of the goodness in Baby Steps, another fantastic sports show that feels like an older anime yet only came out in the recent years.
Tsukamoto Tsukushi is easily bullied by others, honest to a fault, and incredibly hard working. He’s the kind of guy others drop all the work on for group presentations. He’s that guy you can count on to volunteer as designated driver. He’s a doormat, and even more sad, he seems to know it. Awareness doesn’t push him to give up or retaliate; he continues to persevere no matter the situation. This stubbornness extends to his newfound love of soccer and the teamwork it requires. Watching him run longer than the others and try harder to make up for his shortcomings is incredibly inspiring.
Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 3rei!! (4 eps. watched and might backlog)
We’re back with a third season of Prisma Illya, and for once we’re in foreign territory. Gone is Illya’s familiar world with its perfect family, sickly affectionate friends, and her ridiculous magic stick. Don’t get me wrong–I’m a big fan of the original premise laid down in the first season and stretched into the second. I prefer it to the Type-Moon variations. But I was getting bored of it. Lately, the “story” felt like one, long, gratuitous necking scene between our triangle of magical girls. As much as I loved the banter between Rin and Luvia, there just wasn’t enough of it. Someone just give me a show of them!
Now, we’re stuck with Illya and her strange new friend in a parallel world where it snows in the summer and her house doesn’t even exist. The stakes seem higher and the consequences more ominous. I’m also interested to see how Tanaka fits into this war, but I’m wary that she’ll be inserted in some cliché sacrificial manner. For now, I’ll enjoy her mapo ramen face and complete lack of a need for clothing.
Fukigen na Mononokean (4 eps. currently watching)
I am such a sucker for these youkai-type series. And right now, I’m much more interested in this new interpretation rather than my holdover from the previous season, Kyoukai no Rinne. Fukigen na Mononokean isn’t anything too different from others in its category: we have the usual leader figure, Abeno, who is the main exorcist/priest/spiritual advisor/whatever-you-want-to-call-it. Then there’s the newcomer to the supernatural, Ashiya, who ends up working for the other to pay off his debt. Money is clearly not the real reason behind Ashiya’s recruitment, given Abeno’s sudden interest in him upon hearing his name. My bet is that there’s some family history between the two unbeknownst to our protagonist.
I think my favorite aspects to this show so far are the youkai we’ve encountered. I originally thought the fuzz ball at the beginning was a lazy design, but now I’m fond of the fluffy roundness with its three tails. I also loved the many minion eyeballs serving their head boss like a youkai version of yakuza.
Handa-kun (4 eps. currently watching)
Ahhh, dear Handa-kun! We finally get to see the events that contributed to your twisted adult personality. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the character of Seishuu Handa, he is originally from a series called Barakamon that centered on Handa as a gifted calligrapher sent to a remote village partly for punishment and partly for inspiration. As an adult, he is extremely narcissistic, but easily hurt by criticism of his work and personality. As a high school student featured in Handa-kun, he already shows talent for his art. Instead of pride, he struggles with misinterpretation. Thanks to the misguidance by his “friend,” he takes everyone else’s praise and adoration as mockery and bullying. He turns sweet lemonade into the most sour of lemons. If it wasn’t so pathetic, I’d actually feel sorry for him!
Love Live! Sunshine!! (5 eps. currently watching)
Love Live! is back again, only this time with a completely new cast and setting. Instead of Otonokizaka Academy, our girls go to Uranohoshi Girls’ Academy. The premise is very similar to the original: inspired by other idols, which in this case is our beloved μ’s, our girls set out to also start their school’s first school idol club with the goal of working their way up the ranking and performing at Love Live. I was surprised at the change in setting, since I expected to remain at Otonokizaka and see the next generation, including the younger siblings of μ’s, dance on the same rooftop and run the same stairs. However, if you bag the faces of our new cast, you probably wouldn’t even notice much of a difference. I’ll probably get flack of saying that, but everything feels like déjà vu. Despite the rinse and repeat, I do already have a favorite girl with Hanamaru Kunikida. Her love for reading easily endears her to me, as does her sweet and gentle temperament–on top of that, she has the most adorable dialect. I look forward to seeing her sing along with the group and center in her own songs.
Mob Psycho 100 (3 eps. currently watching)
This is definitely the one show that blindly punched me out of nowhere. It was not at all on my radar, and I didn’t really hear much about it before giving the first episode a go. Mob Psycho 100 follows “Mob,” a boy with seemingly limitless psychic powers. He can see spirits and eliminate the bad ones, float objects of every size and shape, and is impervious to spiritual attacks. He walks through each day with an almost expressionless face, which we later find out is a result of his self-control. He avoids using his powers and letting his emotions loose with an understanding of his own limits. Through each of the episodes, you’ll notice a percentage counter ticking up and down towards explosion based on the given situation. Just seeing the strength of his powers in a calm state should make you worry about what happens when he reaches 100% of his progress.
If you’re turned off by the art at the start, I strongly encourage you to stick around for at least a full episode. The style doesn’t follow the usual pretty templates seen elsewhere. It is representative of its original creator, One, who is recently best known for One Punch Man. Like in the hero show, the faces in Mob Psycho 100 are simple and the best color and animation are saved for Mob’s “fights” with spirits.
Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin (4 eps. currently watching)
What looks like a good-for-nothing, acts like a good-for-nothing, speaks like a good-for-nothing is actually the most strategic young mind in the Empire. For an anime hailing from a light novel, this has been surprisingly entertaining, and looks good on the screen as well. The character designs are attractive and the battles, both real and mock, are well staged, even if there is more blood spilled than wounds would allow.
The show is quick to throw our characters into trouble early on so we can get to know the main cast and bond with them before they even make it to the military school. They make it clear from the beginning that seeming slacker Ikta Solork is intelligent, calm, and calculating. He repeatedly spouts the phrase, “That is unscientific thinking,” as explanation for his actions. He avoids the wasteful and illogical in favor of plans guaranteed to succeed and leave him with the most time possible for relaxation. He sounds like most engineers I know. Along with Ikta is his childhood friend, “Yatori”shino Igsem, a noble, young woman with significant combative ability. Unlike Solork, she is unquestionably loyal to the Empire and aims to graduate at the top of her class. I’m curious to see where the two will go once schooling is out of the picture, although I wouldn’t be surprised if their duties to the kingdom take precedence earlier than expected.
New Game! (3 eps. currently watching)
First there was Bakuman on the creation of manga, then Shirobako on the production of anime, and now we have New Game! showing us the design of a video game. While all three anime are aimed at adult males, New Game! feels markedly different from the others. First is the art style, which is softer on the eyes and overflowing with cuteness. Then there are the characters, who are entirely female, which immediately seems odd given the setting is a video game company, albeit we’ve only seen the art design section, one member of the motion team, and a couple of the company’s higher-ups. I’m more inclined to think that the field is heavy on male employees. The office environment also comes across as much more relaxed and stress-free than expected, though we’ve been told multiple times that closer to deadlines we’ll have the girls staying later to work, perhaps even overnight.
Other than the pleasing visuals and game company setting, I’ve mostly been enjoying the office banter between the employees and their superiors. As an office worker myself, I can relate to the side-by-side work stations individually decorated to their users’ styles (no way can I dress mine up that much). When work seems overwhelming, I roll around in my chair to chat, too lazy/fed up to stand up and walk. I stash snacks in my drawers, and cheer on pay day with my coworkers. My office is almost entirely made up of women. I only wish I liked my job as much as newcomer Aoba likes hers!
Orange (4 eps. currently watching)
Orange looks to be this summer’s romance, and hits a larger demographic of both high school students and reminiscent adults due to its unique setup. Our main character is high school student Naho, and her motivations are spurred on by a mysterious letter that looks to be written by her future self ten years forward. We even get to see this adult version of her with a husband, child, and her old friends by her side. Late 20s might seem old to kids, but at that age, I still felt completely unprepared for adulthood and held onto regrets from my younger self. It’s regrets like these that make up the letter that young Naho receives. The letter perfectly captures her daily activities and instructs her to make changes. As would be expected, knowing what to do doesn’t make the doing any easier. We see her refuse to act, resulting in a horrible end. Yet when she does follow advice, the consequences aren’t always immediately apparent. As fascinating as it is to see her confront the events laid out in her letter in real life, I’m also scared to see how much might change in her future.
Planetarian: Chiisana Hoshi no Yume (4 eps. currently watching)
Fans of the visual novel have been wanting an anime adaptation of Planetarian for a long time, and now they finally have it in ONA form with five, short, 20-minute episodes. Despite the story’s brevity, it’s easy to see why it has such a strong following so many years later. The post-apocalyptic setting with its constant rain, ransacked cities, and lack of almost all living things translates well no matter the year. The planetarium backdrop brings a dreamy quality to the otherwise dreary cityscape, where the sky is forever obscured by clouds. With Yumemi’s chattering and the project of fixing Miss Jena, it’s easy to phase out reality, lose track of time, and get sucked into a world long gone but worth remembering.
ReLIFE (1 ep. backlogged)
The release of this series is pretty odd to me since I don’t think I’ve ever started a “new” season show that has all of its episodes already released. I didn’t watch the original web releases, and have been fortunate to avoid any spoilers. After one episode, KWoo and I decided to backlog this show until after the wedding later in August.
Anime titles have been following a “re” trend lately with recent series like Re:Zero, Rewrite, and ReLIFE. They all incorporate inter-dimensional travel in one shape or form. ReLIFE begins with an unemployed man in his late 20s ashamed of his place in life but uncertain how to move forward. He accepts the opportunity to rewind time ten years to his high school self, an experiment that will last a full year. The amount of time given to him to try and change his future sounds short, but in reality, a lot can occur in one year. Even the smallest of changes has the possibility of drastically rerouting your path in life. We’ve seen this in countless number of time travel stories, including this season’s Orange. Hopefully Arata will find some inspiration from his youth that will motivate him towards a goal as an adult.
Servamp (2 eps. backlogged)
On the lower end of my list is Servamp, a fantasy series that features yet another high school boy and his encounter with the supernatural. Mahiru stumbles across a stray cat and takes it home, only to find that Kuro is actually a servant vampire who can take a human appearance away from the sun. The story looks fun with its cutesy, dark art style, and I’d be down with watching it week to week if I had the time. I’ll save this for a quiet weekend!
Shokugeki no Souma – Ni no Sara (4 eps. currently watching)
I obviously must include this sequel since I loved the first season and have been keeping up with the manga. There’s no question that I’ll be watching this week-to-week, even if I have to schedule my wedding events to include viewing time😛 Okay, I wouldn’t go that far, but I am beyond excited to see how this sequel will incorporate the events I’ve enjoyed reading about so much in the source material. The cooking gets more intense, Souma and his friends pick up more techniques and flavors, and the school events get even crazier!
- Kyoukai no Rinne (TV) 2nd Season
- Macross Δ
- Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu
- Sousei no Onmyouji