As sad as I am to see many of this season’s series end, I’m overjoyed that the hot summer months are on their way out. Bye-bye, mosquitos! Farewell, sweat-drenched dog walks! Hello, blankets and sweaters. Come to me, hot chocolate!
This past summer anime season included a lot of comedy and sci-fi continuations. While there were a handful of exceptional shows that went beyond expectations, the vast majority of them hit at just about average or slightly above. I dropped a large number of anime that either lay far outside of my preferences or were completely unpalatable after one or two episodes. I did a lot of weeding, but it was for the best since I was also able to catch up on a fair number of older television series and films, like SDF Macross and Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro.
My summer 2017 season wrap starts here with three wonderful series that I do think are worth your attention, if not in full, then perhaps at least enough to give a passing glance. First love, fantastical food, and super clean soccer: take your pick!
- 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.
What if all the picture-worthy moments of your first romantic relationship were compiled into a show comprising of just those scenes? Requited, unrequited, successful, unsuccessful, the connections between these high school students tumble across the too-short, 15-minute time slot each week in a bundle of silliness and sweetness. So many couples are shown to us, yet each somehow distinguish themselves from one another. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but Tsuredure Children succeeded where so many other full-length series fail; the series made us fall in love with its characters and their individual stories.
As is usually the case with large casts, it’s easy to pinpoint favorites. Mine included not only the last two couples to feature in the final episode—Sugawara and Takano, and Chiaki and Kana—but also ultimate troll Yuki and her too innocent crush, Jun. There are so many pairings in this anime short, of whom many I can’t even remember the names, but their faces pop up clearly regardless. There’s the “Dating Master with” his terrible advice, and the astronomy club girl left behind by her upperclassman. The magic of their appearances lingers long after we’ve moved on to other more prominent characters.
Awkward and short like too many of our first loves, Tsuredure Children is a show I heartily recommend to anyone looking for a laugh and a heart squeeze.
Rating: 2 dango
There was almost no doubt that Restaurant to Another World would hit the bullseye of my preferences, but I was surprised at its mainstream popularity. Not flashy like Food Wars, nor deliciously pandering like Dog Days, Isekai Shokudou takes a leisurely, episodic pace that doesn’t often resonate with a lot of viewers. I’m used to a smaller fan base for shows of a similar feel, like Bartender, or Wakako-zake. It might be the “Isekai” aspect that appeals to more people, the fascinating idea of a restaurant that connects to many different fantastical places and people.
Regardless of why this show received as much attention as it did, Isekai Shokudou was my spot of calm each week. It joined comfort food with story time in a way that deeply resonated with my childhood memories. None of the dishes shown are particularly complicated to make on your own: curry rice, pork cutlet, fruit parfaits. Yet the care with which they are made and the joy they bring to their customers rank just as high as any three star restaurant. Here, the food literally transports you to new places, like any good story should.
Rating: 1 dango
Keppeki Danshi! Aoyama-kun
What was that show some seasons back about a perfect high school student loved by everyone? Sakamoto-something? I couldn’t get into that series since it felt so one-note and faceless, and I didn’t expect much more from Aoyama-kun. His cleanliness, perfection, looks, they all seemed too similar to what I had already turned down.
Forget all of that. Aoyama-kun is exactly the kind of friend you need.
Instead of relying on perfection and crowd adoration for laughs, much of the humor in Keppeki Danshi! Aoyama-kun stems from just how inconvenient his mysophobia makes day-to-day life for him and his classmates. It’s especially trying on his soccer teammates since any grime or sweat that touches him severely impacts his playing ability. One instant he’s a soccer superstar, and the next he’s running like he has fifty-pound weights on each foot. Despite all of this, people still find it hard to not love him. He can be hard to deal with, yes, but he also thinks of others despite his fear. Since he cannot eat food prepared by another, he cooks his own meals and is happy to do so for others. His need to clean anything he touches means entire areas used by other students also get cleaned. And when push comes to shove, he forces himself to overcome the mud to help his soccer team win. If there’s anything he hates more than getting dirty, it’s losing.
I realize I’m making this show sound more heartwarming than comedic, but it’s honestly both. There are plenty of familiar gags with teammates like Tsukamoto, a guy best known for his butt juggling technique. Then there’s the ongoing, but one-sided, rivalry with Zaizen, a spoiled mama’s boy who literally jumps head first into everything.
Give this show a try, and be sure to stick around for the ending credits with its distinctly retro song and art.
Rating: 1 dango