It’s SUMMER (ﾉ´ヮ´)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧ the hottest season returns with the promise of some of the hottest series to heat up our screens. As the temperature steadily rises, and to dangerously high levels, surely the comfort of watching anime in the cool indoors offers a respite from the torturous heat?
As always, the start of each new season brings with it many new series. With so many of them out there, how does one filter the good from the bad to the brilliant and the ones that are just plain nasty? It might be too soon to tell whether a series is good or not based solely from the first three or so episodes, but first impressions definitely do count. There certainly is quite the spread of anime to feast on this season, and having gone through a number of them, I shall now present my list of first impressions for this Summer 2015.
Akagami no Shirayuki Hime
As the title goes, this series is about the snow white with the red hair. Being true to its title, this series is just such a fairy tale. So far, the animation is gorgeous, the characters intriguing and the music dreamy (with Ooshima Michiru in charge, of course, the music is going to be beautiful).
While we do not seem to have progressed that much in the plot department, I honestly have nothing but praise for this series so far. The anime appears to keep things simple (girl meets boy, boy meets girl, girl likes boy, boy likes girl…), but there is just this depth that has gone into the storytelling, which really takes the simplicity to a whole new level. It is pure and heartwarming, and the interactions between our two main characters, Shirayuki (Saori Hayami) and Zen (Ryouta Oosaka) always give me the fuzzies.
Seiyuus Hayami Saori and Oosaka Ryouta are a breath of fresh air in this one, and being able to hear them indeed is such a treat. But of course, the treat does not end there because the lineup also includes Nobuhiko Okamoto, Akira Ishida, Jun Fukuyama, Yuko Kaida and relative newbie Yuuichirou Umehara.
Aoharu x Kikanjuu
A girl who is often mistaken as a boy joins a “survival games” team, Toy Gun Gun. The first episode fell flat, and if not for Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, I would have dropped it. Three episodes in, I remain undecided as to how much I dislike this series. There is not much to say about Aoharu x Kikanjuu. Just watch it if you are really into toy guns, or if like me, you enjoy hearing Matsuoka and his amazingly lol-inducing range.
This new season of Durarara picks up immediately where the previous season left off, and as much as it pains me to say this, the first two episodes of this series have been far from impressive. Durarara!!x2 Ten still chronicles the lives of our Ikebukuro-living characters. However, while there is so much going on, there is also nothing happening at the same time. This paradox is the thing that both confuses and frustrates me because I am pretty sure that those who have seen the first season would be able to say that this is an excellent series!
Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse in Durararax2 Shou, and from the first two episodes, it looks like this season is heading in the same direction.
This series follows the lives of our two main characters Nicolas and Worick, known as the Handymen, as they take on odd jobs in the town of Ergastulum. Right off the bat, we were greeted with gorgeous graphics, stylistic setting, artistic animation, compelling characters and that whole mysterious mafia thing going on. With all of that, and a killer OP to boot, this series promises to be a front-runner this season. And if all that is not good enough, watch it for Mamiko Noto, Junichi Suwabe and Kenjirou Tsuda.
Jitsu wa Watashi wa
This series is about our protagonist, Asahi Kuromine (Natsuki Hanae) – a high school student who is apparently unable to keep secrets. However, one day he discovers that one of his classmates, the girl he has a crush on, is a vampire. To allow her to continue going to school, he vows to keep it a secret no matter what.
I initially watched this because of, obviously, Hanae, and I did think that the summary held some promise. However, after the second episode, I was not at all inclined to go on to the third. If anything, it would be because the series were far too messy. It tries to bring in vampires, aliens and other fantasy creatures, without any proper structure. The clear lack of purpose in bringing in such a mix is evident in just two episodes, such that I found myself cringing while watching this. Not even the seiyuus helped *shrugs*
Makura no Danshi
Boys + pillow talk. Another of this season’s shorts, Makura no Danshi is an anime entirely in the first person perspective, designed to ‘heal tired hearts’ (*coughs* right…). This series will feature one makura no danshi (pillow boy) each week, making it 12 boys in total. And yes, you guessed it – each episode will feature a different “type”, to cater to the different preferences out there. Otome game much?
So we have had two episodes so far, the first being the “gentle type” and the second the “senpai (upperclassman) from work type”. I have nothing to say about this, other than; it is quite pointless to watch this unless you are a huge seiyuu fan.
In a word, ecchi. Never in my wildest imaginations would I have even thought I would one day succumb to an ecchi series, but such is the power of Hiroshi Kamiya (HiroC). That’s right, HiroC leads a stellar cast in this season’s ero extraordinaire of a series. It is a world of ecchi with countless pantsu shots, upskirt shots, photos of bums, overflowing bosoms, and what not. I guess having only five boys enrolled at what used to be an all-girls academy; one can expect the fanservice to be at full blast.
While initially sceptical (this is ecchi after all. Yes, I really have to keep repeating it to get the point across), I have to admit that the first episode alone did more than extinguish any doubts and negative preconceptions that I had about this series. The humour was injected in all the right places, leaving me in stitches. While crass, the humour certainly is not lost, and the seiyuus deliver their lines to comedic perfection. About five minutes into the first episode, I found myself thoroughly enjoying it. Of course, the frequent upskirt shots, etc. are still rather discomfiting. However, with the level of humour that Prison School delivers, it gets relatively easier to ignore the ecchi-ness gets relative by the second episode.
Honestly, with a cast that includes HiroC, Kenichi Suzumura, Daisuke Namikawa, Katsuyuki Konishi, Hanazawa Kana, Shizuka Itou and Sayaka Oohara, how can one possibly resist? I say bring on the dirty humour~
Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace
This season’s noitamina series, an anime inspired by the works of author Edogawa Ranpo. One of the rare full-on mystery series, this is one of the shows that I have been looking forward to. The story takes place in a certain middle school, where a student has been accused of murdering a teacher.
Admittedly, I have only seen the first episode (I can’t take the suspense so I decided to wait for this series to finish its run before indulging in a marathon!) so I can’t possibly make a fair evaluation. But I wanted to include this because I thought it deserved at least a mention. While the first episode is just all kinds of confusing, I believe that it adds to the charm of the series. The storytelling is very different from what I am used to (with the sudden jumps from one perspective to the other), but it is exactly this disjointedness that adds to the dark and mysterious atmosphere of the series.
Rokka no Yuusha
The series follows the six heroes, chosen by the deity of fate, as they embark on their journey to defeat the demon king. As far as fantasy-action-adventure series goes, the premise certainly is an interesting, albeit familiar one. There also looked to be a very colourful array of characters, voiced by a very talented cast consisting of Saitou Souma, Yuuki Aoi, Hikasa Youko, Suzumura Kenichi and Uchiyama Kouki, to name a few. Which makes it all the more of a shame that the first three episodes just did not deliver.
This show had so much promise. It looked so promising, it really did. But after three episodes, it has proven to be quite a disappointment. The storytelling is choppy, the characters lacklustre, and the interactions out of place. I guess that is what happens when you go into a show with expectations. I certainly did for Rokka no Yuusha, and unfortunately expectations were not met.
Shimoneta to iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu na Seikatsu
Japan has banned course language, and now even saying anything remotely lewd is a crime. Our protagonist, Tanukichi (Yuusuke Kobayashi) enrols at the country’s elite public morals school. However, his dream of a happy and clean school life is soon defiled when he is blackmailed by a fellow student into joining an antisocial organisation (SOX) and committing obscene acts of terrorism.
Evidently, this is another one of this season’s dirty humour series. Unfortunately, this series lacks a certain charm that Prison School has. If there were one thing that sets the two series apart, I believe that it is the way in which the humour is presented. While Prison School is full-on ecchi, it brings on the funny in a subtle way. On the other hand, this series delivers the humour far too bluntly. The jokes, no matter how crass or lewd, are quite funny at times, but the innuendos are far too frequent and come across as a rather desperate attempt to inject humour, which simply takes away any and all eloquence or elegance in the story telling.
A two-minute short following our protagonist, Murasaki Wakako, as she partakes in her food & drink adventures. Similar to how Makura no Danshi features a different “type” each week, each episode of Wakako-zake features a different food/drink combination. Miyuki Sawashiro voices our main character, and I don’t think I have ever heard her sound so… unsexy. Is this worth the time? Well, me thinks that unless you have a hankering for some anime food (seriously though in that case just watch Shokugeki no Souma) and want to listen to Sawashiro like you’ve never heard her before (and not in a good way, I might add), save the three minutes of your life. Yes, even if it is just two minutes.
Working!!! is back with its third season, and it feels as if no time has passed at all since the previous season (even though it has been four years!). The wacky characters that we have come to know and appreciate get up to their usual, nonsensical antics and the Wagnaria gang is as quirky and ridiculous as ever. For those who are not familiar with this series, Working!!! gives us the ins and outs of the people working at a certain family restaurant, Wagnaria.
The first three episodes are right on the mark, taking silly and brainless humour up a notch. The funny script is one thing, but the level of amusement is further heightened by the brilliant performances of the voice actors – they surely are back and absolutely killing it with their flawless comedic timing. With a line-up that includes the likes of Jun Fukuyama, Hiroshi Kamiya, Daisuke Ono, Eri Kitamura, Kana Asumi and Ryou Hirohashi, to name a few, it’s seiyuu galore in a very unexpected form.
This series is silly, brainless humour at its best, and honestly, what better cure to the hangover that is work than to watch a relaxing show about working, in which the characters don’t really seem to be working at all? If you are in for some laughing this Summer 2015, then this is one series to pick up.
After all that’s been said, my top three recommends are:
Akagami no Shirayuki Hime
That’s all from me for now. I bid you all a happy watching~