This post reviews: Berserk (2016), Rewrite, Orange, Tales of Zestiria the X, Amaama to Inazuma, Taboo Tattoo, New Game!, Amanchu!, 91 Days, Hitori no Shita: The Outcast, Time Travel Shoujo, Handa-kun, Qualidea Code, Ange Vierge, Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru!, Planetarian: Chiisana Hoshi no Yume, Danganronpa 3 Mirai-hen, Danganronpa 3 Zetsubou-hen, Mob Psycho 100, and Battery.
So, yeah… I’m just a tad bit late with this post. I also figured I’d combine everything into one colossal post since I am just a little late and that there’d be no point in clicking through 4 posts to see one opinion on one episode that aired almost two months ago. Nevertheless, this First Impressions post will give you an insight into what I tried, what issues I’ve had with those shows, and some thoughts on what I am watching and enjoying, too. So with that, here are my summaries from the first few weeks of the Summer 2016 anime season!
I’m new to the Berserk franchise, so I can’t really say how it compares to the original TV series or the movies. That actually may work in my advantage since a number of people who have seen the originals have voiced disappointment whereas I am content and satisfied. Yes, there are some issues with Berserk, but even with those flaws, it’s still one of the most enjoyable anime this season. The atmosphere and aesthetics are so different from everything else that I can’t help but be intrigued by this fantasy adventure story. And while I often fault 3D animation for its appearance, there has been some nice choreography and cinematography in the first few episodes to mitigate my fears. Overall, Berserk 2016 is an engaging and enchanting anime to watch this summer.
Amaama to Inazuma (Sweetness and Lightning)
Oh, well isn’t that sweet? Amaama to Inazuma certainly has the charm and appeal to be the surprise of the season. Its scenario – connecting a single father to his young daughter through cooking lessons – is an endearing and winning formula. The characters feel genuine and the development has felt natural, allowing the chemistry and dialogue to flourish. And who doesn’t look watching people cook delicious food? Amaama to Inazuma has won me over and is certain to be one of my favorite anime this season.
New Game! has all the elements of a successful moe, slife comedy: a simple, plausible setting that’s just slightly unique (video game company versus school club), an amusing collection of characters (who all just happen to be cute girls), and decent enough 4koma gag jokes that make me smile more often than not. New Game! does well where I want it to do well and it makes for an magnetic 24 minutes each episode. It might not be for everyone, but I find it fun and delightful and it’s a keeper for this summer.
Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes (and that still wouldn’t be enough!). Amanchu! is the premier anime of 2016. Amanchu! is gorgeous, magnanimous, heartwarming, spellbinding, and unparalleled. Everything about it is an A++, from its aesthetic to its characters to its setting to its story and especially its music. I mean, how often do I talk about music in an anime? I knew that I would love Amanchu!, but I didn’t expect to love it this much. This will easily be one of the top anime that I have watched since I started blogging and certainly one that I would recommend to anyone and everyone.
There are quite a few anime that try to capture and recreate this 1920s, Prohibition-era United States setting, but most seem to miss the mark with its personality and mood. Not 91 Days… though it might as the series carries on. 91 Days convinced me to keep it with its anxious ambiance, its shadowy setting, and its love for alcohol and revenge. I don’t feel as strongly about 91 Days as I do with some of the other anime on this list, mainly because I wonder how well it will maintain this focus and style. If it can continue, then great, but otherwise, I have a sinking feeling considering the other similar anime before this.
Time Travel Shoujo (Time Travel Girl)
It certainly doesn’t have the flash, style, or pizazz that other anime have this season, but Time Travel Shoujo is a solid anime that is simple, cute, and educational. It requires little to no effort and is more fun than not. It certainly won’t be in the top half of the anime I watch this season, but it provides enough enjoyment and entertainment that I figure it should be worthwhile this season.
Planetarian: Chiisana Hoshi no Yume (Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet)
I finished playing (reading?) Planetarian before the first episode aired, and I absolutely loved the visual novel. Not only that, but I absolutely love the anime, too. While there are some differences in how the anime was adapted, I feel that this TV anime supplements the visual novel by providing motion, emotion, pacing, and a better geospatial understanding of space and positioning. Whereas I feel that the visual novel performs better with its storytelling and comedy, I find that the anime makes up for this with movement, facial expressions, consistent pacing, and knowing where the hell the guy is sitting in that planetarium. In fact, this is what anime is all about: animation. I strongly recommend reading (playing?) the visual novel, though it seems like this anime is a faithful adaptation minus a few missing internal monologs. Oh, and the movie that’s coming out, is certainly on my “To Watch” list for this year.
Danganronpa 3 Mirai-hen (Danganronpa 3 Future) and Danganronpa 3 Zetsubou-hen (Danganronpa 3 Despair)
The two Danganronpa 3 anime this season are essentially one long, parallel series given the phenomenal transition between the end of Future and the beginning of Despair. Yeah, that handoff between the two was sensational, and I’m looking forward to seeing how these two series and their characters intertwine. The first Danganronpa was actually pretty good by my standards, but I think this sequel will blow that one away given its improved budget, directing, and vision. I’d really love to see more anime created in relation like this, with the only notable example coming to mind being xxxHOLiC and Tsubasa Chronicle.
Mob Psycho 100
Although Mob Psycho 100 is destined to live in the shadow of One Punch Man, there are certainly some elements to distinguish it from its big brother that actually lead me to believe I might like MP1 more than OPM. Still, there is plenty of material left in this series, but I have enjoyed the first few episodes in terms of its humor, personality, and animation. Nonetheless, I do wonder where this series will go with its story and characters, but in the meanwhile, it has been a pleasant comedy with intense, energetic, and hilarious characters.
Taboo Tattoo survives, albeit barely, thanks in part to the fighting and comedy in its first episode. Really, I don’t expect much substance or creativity from the show, but I do want to experience the fight scenes and the better comedy scenes since they did stimulate my brain just enough to consider keeping it. In an anime where the valleys far outnumber the peaks, I feel that 4x’ing Taboo Tattoo will let me visit the peaks more than the valleys and that doing so will be worthwhile this summer.
I disliked the protagonist after the first episode and hated him after two. The visual quality was shockingly abysmal, too, which was unexpected considering the success of the visual novel. Those two things, plus the uncertain length of the series, was more than enough reason for me to drop it after two episodes.
I’ve always complained about generic, self-insert male protagonists in anime, so I might as well do the same when it’s a generic, self-insert female protagonist. Not only was Naho painfully devoid of personality, but the sappy melodrama and the uninspiring romance where huge turn-offs. I quit when Naho hit the home run in the first episode.
Tales of Zestiria the X
Although the first three episodes of Tales of Zestiria the X were decent, I elected to drop the series now and turn to the game. As a stand-alone anime, Zestiria the X would have been a keeper, but I feel the major issues that this anime faced, in terms of storytelling and pacing, would be solved by playing the game. I guess it’s somewhat of a win for the anime to convince me to play the game, but it still counts as a dropped anime at the end of the day.
Hitori no Shita: The Outcast
Hitori no Shita failed to hook me with its characters, story, or setting. Maybe it could’ve captured me with a different production team and more money, but it really never felt satisfying or enjoyable when watching the first episode.
Why did they make this and not more Barakamon? No, of course I didn’t take screenshots of this disaster.
I actually thought about keeping Ange Vierge around since the entire cast was naked for about 15 minutes, and I didn’t pay attention to the story or setting or characters or anything. Then episode 2 aired and they were naked for only 5 minutes, so I had to pay attention to the other elements and, boy, what a letdown everything else was.
Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru! (There’s a Problem with this Art Club!)
Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru! had some brilliant animation and aesthetics, making the first episode a pleasure to watch. The first episode also had jokes – not necessarily good or bad – and a decent cast of characters. The main reason for dropping this is that it didn’t have anything special or unique to it, that it felt derivative and undistinguished. If it was more than a school club comedy, then maybe… but I felt like I’ve watched this show a dozen times before.
Battery has a decent skeleton, in terms of how it structures its story, characters, and their budding relationship. The primary complaint with Battery is that it was just too slow and monotonous. For an anime about an ace pitcher, it moved at a snail’s pace. And beyond my issues with the storytelling, I often am picky with how sports anime are portrayed, and I didn’t feel as though Battery would leave me satisfied with that aspect.