Summer 2015 – Premiere Impressions

Here we are. Summer. The anime drought. Wait…why do we have so much good anime to talk about then? We don’t even get to breathe before the mega-packed fall season hits because this summer season has come packing with it’s own anime heavyweights. Chief among them, the return of Dragon Ball, which is quite possibly the biggest resurrection in anime history. So? Should I just start with Dragonball then? Nah, let’s get the stuff I tried and slightly regretted out of the way first! Actually, this is the first season where I haven’t dropped anything I watched from the very first episode. So without further ado, from worst to least, here are this season’s anime that I have mettled in so far!


Aoharu X Machinegun

Synopsis: A tom-girl who is always confused for a boy is forced to join a club of male hosts because of damages she caused in their club room. BUT WITH AIR SOFT GUNS.

Yeah, did that synopsis ring any Ouran High School bells? I don’t know if this is going to parody Ouran, or the resemblance in just that uncanny, but Ouran is one of my favorite comedies, so if this can outpace even that, we have a surefire hit on our hands. But it hasn’t yet. The first episode was definitely weaker than Ouran’s first episode, and it’s just above the range of quality where I would just drop it. I kind of like my tom-boy main characters, but this one might be too stupid. We’ll see.

So yes, this is Ouran with guns. The hosts of this club participate in air soft wars therefore hilariously making this the action premise with the least at stake of the entire season. I don’t really know where the anime is going to go, but I want to see at least one battle with this team that our main character joined before calling it quits.

On top of that, our main character has a hero complex where she constantly seeks to pulverize wrongdoers which is also more suited for an action series. So is the male host club even relevant to the story, or was this maybe a clever homage to classic anime comedy and it will go on to tell it’s own story from this point forward. I don’t know, but I sure hope this doesn’t mean cosplayers are going to start shooting me with air soft guns in the convention halls next year. They still hurt you know.

6/10


Ushio to Tora

Synopsis: A young temple assistant find a locked up demon underneath the temples shed. This leads to the attraction of lesser demons that the young boy can only hope to defeat by letting imprisoned demon free.

This was the next anime from Studio Mappa. THE MAPPA. The new studio who got everyone’s attention by crafting the wondrous likes of Zankyou no Terror and Rage of Bahamut. So…where did all that bar-raising animation go? I think the old school feel, complete with the retro thriller orchestral scores, are a stylistic choice because this is based on a really old manga.

So yeah, I don’t like the art. I appreciate what’s it’s calling out to, but I highly prefer their more elaborate works that made them famous in the first place. The main character is kind of a classic hard-headed boy, making everything simply feel stereotypical. I’m continuing only in hopes that it will improve because the story definitely didn’t rope me in, nor did the art style. The main distinction this anime makes is the odd pairing of young boy and demonic spirit. Seeing their two polar opposite personalities clash could be entertaining.

6/10


Gate

Synopsis: A military-enrolled otaku is completely in charge of his life. He works solely to support his hobby which involves all manner of nerdom, and he’s proud of it. So when a fantasy world connects to their world through a “gate” this otaku gets promoted, and is part of a military scouting team that ventures through the gate.

The dude’s an otaku. I don’t really get why. It seems like a reeeeally long stretch to make him relatable because nobody is going to really care about an army grunt. I feel like they should have kept him that way and fleshed him out with maturity rather than make him kind of immature so that us introverted nerds can see eye to eye with him.

Anyways, I am not sold on the main character as of yet, but this anime did start with a lot of chaos that served as popcorn entertainment for the full length. We got our first glimpse of what lies beyond the gate, and I don’t know if it’s a fantasy world interesting enough to win me over, but I do want to see how our main characters otaku skills ultimately pay off. If he uses his nerdom to guide military veterans through this world, then I would love the fact that he is an otaku.

There’s not much that’s doing it outside of that. The animation was okay. The music was thematic enough. If this anime is going to sell, it has to do it off of the oddity of the main character. That’s how Log Horizon did it, and this is definitely suffering the same production drawbacks as that anime.

6.5/10


Classroom Crisis

Synopsis: In this world, humanity has colonized all of the planets in the solar system. This particular story follows a workshop/classroom in a technological research division based in Japan’s settlement on Mars.

Basically the synopsis means there’s a huge sci-fi world out there, but we’re focusing on a small story that exists within it. There are no space threats or wars that have been spoken of so far, so the story then seems to simply be how this classroom proves that it’s worthwhile. They are a rather odd and dysfunctional lot, and I always like underdog stories involving groups of characters like these. I like quite a few things about this anime, but I don’t really get what it’s going for.

In the first episode, we had this kidnapping scene that I don’t really get the point of, but it introduced the classroom’s boss, per se. Through the events of the kidnapping we learn that he’s an extremist who would put the company’s best interests ahead of his own life. I don’t get why, and the students don’t either, so I hope that’s going to come as we learn more about him.

This is an anime that breathes potential, but hasn’t enacted any of it throughout the first episode. The sci-fi aspect of it seems fantastic. I’d love to see more of colonized Mars, and even the other planets. I want to learn about the technology they are developing. But I literally can’t even tell if this anime will focus on that. Due to my burning curiosity, I have to continue this one, and it wasn’t a bad start.

7/10


Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace

Synopsis: A young school girl, our main character, is seemingly the cause of the brutal murder of her teacher. As the evidence stacks against her, she becomes happy to finally have something exciting in life, and sees the task of proving herself innocent as the ultimate game.

There’s an implied boast within the subtext of this premiere. The main character is bored of mystery novels and games, and thirsts for something real. This also means that this anime is claiming to be something more “fresh” than all of those games. You can’t downplay the source material unless you think you have something new to bring. This anime does have a lot of quirks that I wouldn’t expect with a mystery anime. Namely, the main character being a downright adrenaline junky.

Within the first episode we meet the master detective. He’s young and gifted, but he’s not on the same level as say L from Death Note. I still really like him, however. He’s already demonstrated that he can play with some dirty deception. I also do like the main character, except that in order for me to relate to her being excited about this, they really should have shown her boring life to draw comparison. I never got to see her bored, therefore, I don’t really appreciate the fact that she’s finally excited. Just hearing her say it doesn’t do it for me.

The anime is bloody, but I don’t know if it will be the occasional mangled body, or a gore-fest quite yet. I’m hoping it’s the former. This doesn’t need shock value and I think the anime knows that. Just enough to understand that the murderer is indeed real, and a definite psychopath. The directing style has a couple unique things about it. There are some standout scenes, and there’s this odd character drawing style where everyone that isn’t plot relevant is just a gray figure. That might get old, but for right now, it’s very interesting.

7.5/10


Gangsta

Synopsis: Gangs run rampant throughout the city, and the cops have their hands full. Our two main characters are mercenaries who take dirty jobs from the cops for quick cash.

Gritty, gritty, gritty. Titty, titty, titty. Sex and violence are usually doled out in pairs together, and this anime keeps that tried and true subject matter at the forefront. Humanity is a dirty species, which fits the tone, and harkens back to the likes of Black Lagoon in this respect.

I knew that this anime wouldn’t be bad, but I was definitely wondering how good it would be. Are we talking Baccano good? Bebop good? Well, something like that is impossible to tell from the first episode, but the results look promising. In one episode we got a grimy look at the state of affairs in this city as well as our first damsel in distress. Not sure if I’m liking the blatant testosterone running rampant here. Black Lagoon was interesting because the biggest bad ass was A GIRL, but in this one, she may be the more conventional assistant to the more capable men. I’m not here to argue it, I’ll just state my stance with…yeah, too much testosterone.

The main characters have their quirks. The more interesting one is a deaf combatant who everyone refers to as a “tag.” He has these dog tags that make me think he was some tortured super soldier in the past. This anime feels like it’ll be episodic, and that every week will be our bad-ass character doing bad ass stuff. I haven’t gotten a whiff of a true gang interplay yet. This may just be a gangsta “style” rather and a gangsta “story.” Anyways, the action was heavy and satisfying, and the world is realistically portrayed. I like anime that take this approach immediately more, but it’s because I expect a story to match the harsh reality it takes place in. Don’t do me wrong Gangsta, you are looking decent already.

8/10


Dragon Ball Super

Synopsis: Taking place after the events of Kid Buu in Dragon Ball Z, this anime continues the story of Goku as a new threat looms in the distant galaxy.

I was thinking, just for a bit, that they might replace Goku’s Japanese voice actor for this new series. But one shrill shriek later, and I knew they kept the same guy. But that’s fine because this is Dragon Ball guys. The one anime that ended so long ago that people actually did accept the fact that we’d never see a continuation. I mean, Final Fantasy VII remakes aside, isn’t this the most unbelievable moment of the year?

So, how was it? Is it like Z or the original? Does Akira Toriyama still have it? Man, cool your jets! Dragon Ball is hundreds of episodes long, I can’t compare them off of one premiere episode. I can say that it feels like Dragon Ball. Both the original and Z at the same time. It feels like Dragon Ball because they didn’t do much to change it. This episode focused on Hercule, Goten, and Trunks as they did things in preparation for Videl and Goha’s wedding. A few characters haven’t appeared yet, like Vegeta, but most of the main cast made small appearances already.

I know I need to watch the movies now because the new villain is from it, or at least looks like the purple creature from it. And he’s going around destroying planets who’s people can’t impress him. So the “Z” style villain is here and the original Dragon Ball style of watching kids fly around on random journeys is present as well. I can’t say which way it’ll tilt, but I feel like once the villain shows up, we’re going into full “Z” mode.

The animation is beautiful to see updated. The episode started with a “previously on Dragon Ball Z” using original footage from the Kid Buu episode, and man, what a startling difference. I didn’t really notice the aesthetic upgrade until that was on my screen. Dragon Ball Z is the only anime that I like the English version of, not only because of Goku’s voice actor, but Bruce Faulconer’s music as well. Very rarely does an english dub get recomposed, but DBZ did, and I miss that music while hearing the classic upbeat melodies this premiere churned out.

So yes! It was good. It was more Dragon Ball. It feels like new, yet it’s all nostalgically the same. It hasn’t been corrupted, it hasn’t been changed. It’s literally more Dragon Ball. If you’re a fan…you’ll still be a fan.

8.5/10


Charlotte

Synopsis: Our main character has a power where he can possess people’s bodies for a few seconds. He uses this to his utmost advantage until he’s caught by a mysterious group.

Oh man, this was a confident premiere. There are tons, I mean TONS of anime about teens with superpowers, but 99% of them fall by the wayside because of anime like Charlotte. And I really hope Charlotte becomes the X-men of anime, because it has all the potential to.

Where do I even begin? How about the fact that it started off right into how the main character abuses his power, and how thought out, and hilarious it was. Constant, well-timed humor that reminded me of Marvel’s humorous cinematic flair perpetuated through this whole episode. This main character used his power almost how any person his age would. It was instantly relatable. There was also that surprisingly introspective monologue in the beginning that served as a thematic foundation to his power. I really hope that every character’s mentality or persona befits their power in some fashion. I also like how there seems to be a malfunctioning characteristic to everyone’s power.

And then we have the mysterious group that catches him, and offers him a higher purpose. Much like Xavier and Magneto rounding up mutants in First Class. This is still an anime, so there are anime things about it, but this is the closest I’ve felt to a perfectly paced modernized super ability story I’ve come across in anime. I really, REALLY hope this anime doesn’t go on to disappoint. I would have been happy with an anime like Charlotte as the premiere, because it seems to have the potential to become one of my all time favorites. And any anime season with an anime like that is considered a good season in my book. But then we have this next one…

9/10


Rokka no Yuusha

Synopsis: An unknown man walks into an empire’s massive combat tournament finale and interrupts the entire proceeding claiming he’s the strongest in the world. He hopes to become chosen as one of the six Flowers. Warriors that are chosen to oppose a massive demon that returns ever era or so.

THIS is how you do an anime. It doesn’t matter how vague, standard, or overdone your premise is, as long as you have a way to tell it that’s better than those before you, and Rokka no Yuusha is absolutely doing that. A mythical martial arts epic with a literally perfect start is something truly special for me. Katanagatari is my most beloved martial arts anime, and why the style is different, this is giving me those same jittery feelings. Feelings that I’m going to be in for something truly magnificent.

So what is this anime doing right? Nearly everything. The main character is easily one of the most memorable characters of the year. Everything from the color-changing hair rounding out his awesome character design, to his overly confident, charismatic way of conversing and fighting. We also got to meet the second flower (if he’s considered the first) and while she didn’t have as much screen time, she’s equally capable, and I already love the role she played in nonchalantly abandoning her kingdom to seek her destiny.

Or how about that world design and artwork? This anime looks phenomenal, and the mayan infused setting is such a breath of fresh air. It’s not just the setting alone however. The direction of this anime is very engaging as well. See, you can kind of tell the difference between a director who simply jumps between very typical scenes. Here’s some scenery, here’s their faces while they talk, and here’s a zoom out as they fight. But in Rokka no Yuusha, the director is actively squeezing out cinematic effect of several scenes. The interesting camera angles, the cool prolapses of time. This is a competent director, and the team of artists at his side are just as commendable.

And then we have the combat. One episode in and we already have a fight scene that will stick with me to the end of the season. Gone are the shouts of drawn-out ability names, or characters who win because they scream louder or have the power of friendship. This guys wins because he’s a bag full of tricks. Weapons with hidden compartments, smoke bombs, caltrops, and his own fiendish mind are all making up an incredible arsenal for “smart” action. Which is what Martial Arts is all about.

Because of the sheer execution of this first episode, I am completely sold on this anime, and if it keeps up this caliber, Katanagatari may have a fellow rival. If that happens, I will be so proud of this ol’ anime industry.

10/10


With Madhouse’s Overlord and Ufotable’s God Eater on the horizon, there are still a couple anime that have yet to air that have a fair amount of anticipation behind them. I will keep this post updated with my impressions of their premieres as well, and once everything from this season has aired, this blog post will be complete. But I wanted to at least share what I have watched so far. I couldn’t wait any longer to talk to you guys about Rokka.

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