Summer 2016 Season Wrap, Part 1

Somehow I made it through this busy summer with more shows than I expected, though I did drop a handful that I had originally intended to keep, like Kyoukai no Rinne and Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu LOVE! LOVE! When I found myself repeatedly choosing other series over these to view each week, then faced the large number of un-watched episodes near the end of the summer season, I realized that I had zero interest in either. I already had my hands full with so many other series! Here is the first part of my summer season review, with more to follow.

  • Amaama to Inazuma
  • Amanchu!
  • Arslan Senki (TV): Fuujin Ranbu
  • Battery
  • Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 3rei!!
  • Handa-kun
  • New Game!
  • Planetarian: Chiisana Hoshi no Yume
  • Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu


*Rating system:

  • 0 dango – average and forgettable.
  • 1 dango – very good in its category.
  • 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
  • 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.

Amaama to Inazuma

Every week brought with it more delicious foods, and more warming and clenching of the heart. Sweetness and Lightning may have followed the path set by its title, but there was much more substance than just smiles and cooking. There were also the joys and troubles of parenthood from the point of view of a single father, as well as the curiosity and confusion of a little girl. Watching the two of them each week reminded me of my own brief time as a child with a single mom, and the trials we faced.

I loved how Amaama bundled each lesson and revelation, however small, with a recipe. If I had not been so busy with my wedding, I would have blogged some recipe attempts! I wish the show could have gone one season longer to give me that chance, but I also approved of its short length and soft close to a story that will continue off screen.

Rating: 2 dango

Amanchu!

Such a pretty show! It was a pure pleasure to follow Teko and Pikari as they explored their first year as high school students and trained for open water diving with their club. The style of the original creator reflected throughout the entire series, with the obvious visuals, personalities, and sentiments. The thinly-penciled lines and soft colors worked beautifully with the gentle observations of Amanchu’s characters as they displayed their wonder and love for life, the ocean, and each other. Pikari’s personality is an odd one that could easily be shrugged off as overly excited and childish, but she finds company in fellow divers by charging forward with her head up. Teko is too anxious to commit herself to anything or anyone, but Pikari’s extended hand encourages her to open and interact with her surroundings.

Diving is the perfect backdrop for these girls’ growth, and I can see why the creator features water so prominently in her works. The sea is wondrous, terrifying, mysterious, and vast. I would like to see more of the Diving Club as they proceed through high school, but am also content with where the anime ended.

Rating: 1 dango

Arslan Senki (TV): Fuujin Ranbu

Eight seems to be the number lately, with my current favorite Netflix show, Stranger Things, cutting short and perfect at eight episodes, and this past season’s continuation of the epic Arslan Senki also lasting the same number of weeks. In both cases, I may have bemoaned the short run, but at heart I was glad due to the more focused storytelling and pacing. Far too many stories, both on screen and on paper, tell the primary series of events and then proceed to either filter in extras throughout the telling or overextend the ending past the main resolution. This second season opts against that and strictly follows Arslan and his retainers in the wake of his father’s escape from Ecbatana and return to lead the Parisan army.

This campaign to gather his father’s demanded number of troops before returning works extremely well to further establish Arslan’s candidacy as king. Though he may not be of the same bloodline, he is “free of its curse” and conducts himself as a leader should. It certainly helps that he is still surrounded by exceptional people, particularly his advisor, Narsus, who still seemingly does no wrong. His one mistake in seeking help from an old peer is quickly remedied by quick planning. I would have liked to see a more overt failure. Regardless, we still have a long way to go with Arslan’s dream still far from reach and all nations now looking again at Ecbatana. Third season, when?

Rating: 1 dango

Battery

I had such high hopes for this show since from the start there was plenty of promise to be seen in its characters and setting. The art, too, impressed with gentle colors and lines. Unfortunately, the story was never able to find its footing among the many open paths which were each inviting in their own ways and whose ends we never discovered. One of my favorite aspects of the show was Takumi’s refusal to conform. He would not bow to school traditions intended to enforce respect by lowerclassmen towards their upperclassmen and teachers, like cutting his hair or calling quits on practice at the first sign of rain. His fixation on baseball might seem unnatural for someone of his age, but I can believe it by remembering some of the obsessions I had at that time in my life. Sometimes not doing what I loved felt almost physically painful. A lot of the time, Takumi came across as a stubborn brat, but considering the responses of his peers and authoritative figures, I often agreed with his logic in the end.

Another aspect I really wish the series had followed was the friendship between Takumi and Gou. Their bond was played up repeatedly, but I don’t believe the two ever came to an understanding. That flash to the future near the end of the series implied that Gou had quit baseball upon entering high school, which is a gigantic tease given the complete lack of connection from the main series taking place in middle school. By the ending, I had no idea what message this anime wanted to impart.

Rating: 0 dango

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 3rei!!

Gahhh! I hate it when series end unfinished and announce a movie continuation. It just reeks of poor planning and management! Just finish the story in one damn season, or continue on into the fall. Though given the contents of this third season (3rei), perhaps it’s better that they don’t give us twelve more episodes of nonsense. I used to be quite fond of the first season, and somewhat liked the second (2wei). I actually preferred the characters in this version more than Type-Moon’s. But the story just continued on and on, and I became bored with the plot twists and extensions. There was so much fluff in the second season, that I think it would’ve worked to just shorten it and combine it with the more serious plot line in the third season.

The direction of 3rei is actually a necessary one, since it looks to answer all the questions raised at the very beginning with Miyu’s introduction and her reactions throughout the series. Now we know why she reacted so strongly to Illya’s brother, and why she was so hesitant to befriend the rest of Illya’s classmates. Her sense of duty as a magical girl also resulted naturally from her obedience towards the Ainsworth family. I’m happy to see these dots connected, even if I dislike a lot of the fluff surrounding it. Beatrice’s character, for instance, just seems to be a fetish inclusion that doesn’t add any substance to the show. Her twisted personality only serves to annoy both our main characters and myself as a viewer. Angelica’s character, on the other hand, does add to the cast as an interesting adversary and resource for information about Miyu’s home. I’d like to see how her role continues with her new state of being.

Rating: 0 dango

Handa-kun

Despite Handa-kun being a spin-off of the series Barakamon, you don’t really need to be familiar with the original work to appreciate and enjoy this series. Yes, it provides some explanation for the way Handa acts as an adult and interacts with the village people, but you will likely still find funny his complete lack of understanding of everyone at his high school.

A simple assertion by a trusted friend has Handa under the belief that every single person despises him. He misinterprets adoration for hate, and attempts to befriend him as bullying. While it can be frustrating seeing just how completely he twists certain phrases and expressions, it’s also somewhat endearing. I found myself almost joining the throngs of people fawning over his ridiculous reactions. I was keeling over at the school festival, where the theme ended up almost entirely focused on Handa-kun. The little details fit perfectly, like the calligraphy demonstration, Handa-kun makeovers, and Handa-chan manga.

Rating: 1 dango

New Game!

I’m always such a fan of shows that focus on the office environment. Even though the packaging of New Game! is vastly different than the usual of a similar setting with its all-female cast, cutesy style, and video game focus, I still found a lot of experiences relatable to my own every day desk job. Aoba’s entry to the company of her dreams and the following interactions with coworkers and superiors come across as a lot more positive than my own first job out of high school. Not only does she get to work for the people who created her favorite video game, but she also works under a legendary character designer. I have yet to achieve such a position! On top of those successes, she also ends up with coworkers who are supportive and friendly. Four of them share a cubicle, and somehow don’t end up wanting to strangle each other. The anime stays away from being too happy-go-lucky by including some struggles by Aoba and her coworkers to maintain a high quality of production as well as stay at pace with the busy schedule towards the game’s release date. They verbally jab at each other, usually with good intentions, and accidentally eat each other’s snacks in the fridge.

This is where the undertones of the creator’s view towards company employees steps in. We see the women passionate in their work, and on good terms with each other and their bosses. They seem happy enough to work overtime, sometimes even staying overnight, when requested—at times, they even voluntarily do so! While it’s good to see hourly wages being compensated for the overtime, I have a hard time believing the constant agreeable attitude. It’s like they’re all one big happy family giving off vibes of teamwork that we often see displayed in school culture festivals. Perhaps I’m just too jaded from my own time spent slogging away at a work desk, but there’s no way in hell that I’d offer to work into the night. Looking past that reality, I still really enjoyed the humor and interactions in the show and would recommend it to others.

Rating: 1 dango

Planetarian: Chiisana Hoshi no Yume

This 5-episode long ONA again takes the shorter route in favor of a more concise and ultimately more effective story. As I mentioned at the start of the season, I was unfamiliar with the visual novel, though did recognize the beloved KEY character and was prepared for heartache and a grumpy male lead–which is exactly what we received. I’m not one, however, to be adverse to a formula panning out as planned, and I enjoyed this short story for what it was, a bundle of dreams within a dystopian world. There’s our dream of a world both more advanced and more destroyed, Yumemi’s dream of a working planetarium with plenty of people to serve, and the soldier’s dream (or nightmare) of this strange oasis of a planetarium in the middle of an abandoned city.

Rating: 0 dango

Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu

Oh, boy. This was certainly a fun show to watch week to week and observe the reactions of other viewers in social media. As a two-cours show, I could have easily blogged several thoughts through its run, but my schedule didn’t allow for such. That was probably for the best, because as much as I had a blast riding along with Subaru I also had a lot of WTF moments. I absolutely detest scenes that embarrass or torture the main character, and there was plenty of that in Re:Zero. On top of the physical violence, there was also his horrific verbal battles with himself and his friends. There’s a point where he seems to have absolutely lost his mind—you can see the terror in his eyes and on his face when he tries to get both Emilia and Rem to listen to him. While I could understand the reason for his fall, it was painful to see him so defeated. I about dropped the show after his frozen encounter with Puck with the dramatic music playing in the background.

Talking about the music and sound effects, they were definitely among my favorite aspects of the anime. The sound of Subaru’s revival resonates each time. There are times where the music crescendos to an overwhelming volume, and runs its full course instead of fading out to the next scene.

But back to the torture, and the despair! The suddenness of each failure and the resulting horrific consequences made each positive turn all the more hopeful. When we finally witnessed Subaru take the knowledge of his several revivals and use it wisely in gathering help, my relief was overwhelming.

Rating: 1 dango


Reviews of the following to come:

  • Handa-kun
  • Kuromukuro
  • Love Live! Sunshine!!
  • Macross Delta
  • Mob Psycho 100
  • Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin
  • Orange
  • ReLIFE
  • Servamp
  • Shokugeki no Souma: Ni no Sara
  • Tales of Zestiria the X

8 thoughts on “Summer 2016 Season Wrap, Part 1

  1. I had about the same thoughts on Re:Zero that you did. I actually didn’t even watch the episode that you talk about with Puck freezing him, I was so tired of Subaru at that point. And I wasn’t going to watch after that, except that others reported that it changed significantly after that. And it was much better after that for me, although the scenery-chewing by Betelgeuse was pretty cringeworthy and stupid.

    New Game was wonderfully good. I really enjoyed it, and really liked that it was able to sneak in a lot of the feel of working. Aoba’s observations like “I really like my job, but sometimes I just hate it” and “Overtime is just a way to lower wage costs” were dead on, and actually fit within the show. The office situation was pretty authentic to me, I always get along fine with my co-workers. I think you overstate the happiness of people to work overtime. There was complaining about it, but they talk about the exchanges for later, and also about having to get the work done. If the company is conscientious about it, then employees are usually not too upset about working overtime. It felt obvious to me that Eagle Jump wasn’t particularly being unfair to their employees (unlike the company in ReLife), and that the employees didn’t really like having to do it, but that’s what you do. Maybe those companies are kinda rare, but they definitely exist.

    I found that Sweetness and Lightning was much more of the cooking show I want to see than a show like Shokugeki no Souma. It was so much more accessible to me as someone who doesn’t know much about Japanese cooking (and it also wasn’t shounen-y, which I grow more and more tired of the more I see it). I personally didn’t get too sappy about the family moments, they were nice enough, but I’m glad other people liked them.

    I dropped Illya for good after they had 3 separate fights that were “I’m gonna destroy you… oh wait, gotta go. I’ll get you next time.” It didn’t look like it was going anywhere, and just introducing more and more characters so bleh. Can’t be bothered to care anymore.

    And Amanchu was a really nice series. Maybe a little too much muppet-face, but other than that, it was well done as far as showing the growth of a young woman, trying to figure out who she is and how she wants to be. I really liked the setup that Teko actually had already kind of broken out of her alone-ness before, but then had to move, rather than her situation at the new school being the one that changed her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The whole Betelgeuse segment in Re:Zero was pretty agonizing, though I did appreciate how they evolved his role later on with other fingers in the cult.

      I think my thoughts on New Game! piggy-backed too much on my recent personal experiences. “If the company is conscientious about it” does apply to the anime, though we didn’t see much of a variety of workers, like married employees or parents having to deal with the expected overtime. I’d like to think that the company would exempt circumstances like single parents from putting in extra hours. That obviously isn’t the focus of the show, though, so excuse my irritation🙂

      Like

      • I think a lot of it was that it wasn’t really ‘unexpected’ overtime. There were times when Aoba would say “I’ll stay late to finish this”, but I don’t recall seeing the company saying “You need to stay late tonight to finish this.” There’s a big difference between those two things. And there were times where they were saying “Yeah, we’re getting down to the deadline, so we’re going to have to start doing overtime” but that’s something everyone knows is coming up, and everyone’s on board for that. Plus, it was a young women’s company. All the people we saw were women no older than, say, 25 or 30. And given the demographics of Japan, it’s not amazingly surprising there wouldn’t be a lot of married women there.

        I understand not liking overtime. Personally I hate it, and don’t do it if I can avoid it. But I do work at a conscientious company, and they know that overtime doesn’t really get more stuff done, it just really pisses people off.

        Liked by 1 person

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