Ah summer, that wonderful time of year for fun in the sun. A time for enjoying nature, meeting new friends, making new memories… to hell with that, there’s anime to watch. This summer has some stuff continuing on from last season, some anime originals, long awaited sequels, and even a reboot of a cherished franchise! Spring was a tough act to follow, but this was still a fairly decent season. As usual, feel free to mention shows you liked that I may have missed in the comments, or just post your arguments for best girl in any given show.
Akame ga Kill
This is the tale of a young warrior named Tatsumi that sets out looking to earn money to help his village. Unfortunately his journey gets him mixed up in a battle between a corrupt kingdom and a band of assassins that fight them from the shadows, known as the “Night Raid.” After a series of events, Tatsumi becomes recruited by the infamous Night Raid and trains to learn the ways of the assassin.
Akame ga Kill is an odd blend of action and comedy. This show is goofy, violent, bloody, and even sexy at times. One really cool thing is unlike a lot of TV anime, they decided to let the blood spill without the “black fog of censorship” that is usually put in place over gore to encourage BD sales. This show isn’t going to wow anyone with a deep storyline or emotional struggles. What AgK does do is have lots of fun with stylish, yet silly characters, and lots of action. I enjoyed watching this quite a bit, and I think a lot of fans that crave the violent side of anime will be very happy with this, for better or for worse.
Aldnoah Zero is an original anime production from Aniplex, and is created by Gen Urobuchi, the man behind anime’s famous Madoka Magica. This time you won’t get tragic magical girls, instead it is time for a serving of tragic invasion. AZ takes place in an alternate version of Earth where the Apollo missions revealed a gateway to Mars on the surface of the Moon. On Mars, astronauts discovered powerful relics known as Aldnoah, which can only be used by certain bloodlines. Eventually this leads to a war between the “Martians” blessed by Aldnoah and the people of Earth.
In the beginning it feels like AZ is going to be a typical mecha anime with a huge budget behind it, but it is quickly stands out on its own, and does so very well. AZ is a mix of pulse-pounding action and twisted schemes, brought to life with incredible animation and an amazing soundtrack. I loved every minute of this show and it was the one I looked forward to the most each week. Be warned, there is one hell of a cliffhanger ending that won’t be concluded until the second part airs in January of next year.
Captain Earth continued on after the spring, and is now all said and done with. If you remember from last time, my first impressions of this show were less than spectacular. Not much has changed since then. While the storyline and action became much more interesting over time, the glaring flaws of this show are still present and still hold it back.
Captain Earth was one strange trip. It had a very strange storyline, and I think that was probably one of the only reasons it could keep me watching. The bland, one-dimensional heroes never really become more interesting, even when a romance sprouts between some of them. The villains of the show seem to have all the charm and quirks at every turn, to a point where I found myself rooting for them at times, and not in the good way. The story and action are entertaining, yet as formulaic as they come. In the end Captain Earth is watchable and even amusing at times, but it is entirely forgettable.
Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei!
Just as promised, everyone’s favorite Type-Moon spinoff continues, with more magical loli goodness than ever! This picks right up where the last season left off, but now poor Ilya’s chances of returning to a normal school life are in jeopardy thanks to the appearance of a magical girl that has devoted herself to assassinating Ilya in both person and character!
If you liked the first season of this, you will likely enjoy this one as well. This time around a big chunk of the action is saved for the last few episodes, but in the meantime there is plenty of cute fun, comedy, and of course, fanservice. At this point fans of this show already know what they are getting into and what they are here for, and despite a lot of niche pandering here there is quite a fan base surrounding the Ilya spinoff. I personally had fun watching this, and I’m looking forward to the third season that has been announced for next year.
Happiness Charge Precure
I’m still hanging in there, and I’m in this for the long haul. If I have any critique of this so far, I’d say this isn’t as well paced as other Precure anime I have seen. How things will wrap up in the end I have yet to say, as this is going to continue to run into the next couple of seasons before concluding.
Jinsei is the story of a group of friends in a school newspaper club devoted to writing a life advice column. This is your typical slice of life/romcom, with some bits of ecchi fanservice tossed in for good measure. It should be noted that you won’t find subtitles for this show through “official” channels. As of the time of this article, there is only one fansub group that is doing this, and they still have yet to come up with the final three episodes. Why? This show is full of segments with fast speech and lots of written text, a nightmare for translators and typesetters. Crunchyroll wouldn’t even think of touching something like this, especially considering their subtitles are typically “middling” at best in my opinion.
That being said, this show is still worth a look if you like this sort of anime. While I feel there are better romcom anime available this season, there is still a certain unique charm found here. Also, Fumi has some pretty great Fumiis.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
Jotaro’s trip to Egypt continues into the summer, and it is still full of mishaps and stand users. Some critics of the show dislike the “stand of the week” feel this show has, but the cast always seems to keep this show feeling fresh and interesting. The only thing I was not happy to see about this season is it ends, but don’t fret, Jotaro and company continue their quest to fight Dio this coming January!
Rail Wars is a harem comedy about new recruits working for JNR, Japan’s public railway management and operations organization. The purpose of this show is to deliver a heavy dose of fanservice for otaku that are into trains, and otaku that are into ecchi. There is a story in there somewhere too, but the endless assault of bullshit situations in a show attempting to bring up “facts” about JNR and the trains they run sort of ruined all of that. When people complain about fanservice being used to fill in for a lack of decent content, Rail Wars is one of the few examples that should be brought up. All the trains and tits in the world aren’t enough to bring this ridiculous snooze-fest to life, and I think even the most devoted ecchi fans will have a hard time slogging through this one to the end. Seriously, the ecchi content is very sparse and tame, so if that was your reason to keep watching you will only be left disappointed. I can’t even use a bad pun about a train wreck here, because that would imply there may be something worth at least watching for cheap thrills. Skip this one.
Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei
(The Irregular at Magic High School)
The loveable and invincible Onee-sama returns for even more right-wing themed lessons on magical science and badassery. All of the glaring flaws present in the first half are still here, and then some, and strangely enough some of them are what keep this show entertaining. The best approach to watching Mahouka is realizing that Tatsuya cannot ever be defeated by anyone or anything, and knowing the only characters that deserve your pity are the villains of this anime.
The dry content and slow pace of this show are still here, especially during the almost torturous school competition arc in the middle, but in a way it all pays off when the last handful of episodes offer a brutal slugfest of magicians fighting off a massive invasion force. Even with some “buy the BD” censorship going on, some of the most brutal fighting I have ever seen on TV anime pops up during these final episodes. Oh, and just in case Tatsuya didn’t seem invincible enough he gets a powered suit that increases his powers, with a design improved upon by none other than himself, so you can be certain the final fight will be ridiculously unfair and one-sided. As woefully predictable as all this is, it somehow became satisfying to watch.
Mahouka was a mess of an anime, and I’m sure the novels don’t fare much better. Somehow it was still worth a watch for the pure insanity of it all. I also have to admit they knew how to end this anime with a bang, and that was more than anyone could expect. This show and the novels have a pretty big following around the world, so apparently the appeal is there. I can’t conscionably recommend this anime to anyone for many obvious reasons, but if you really want to check this out, you will certainly be in for one of the most absurd rides anime has to offer.
Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?
I originally was going to pass on this show since the premise seemed a little generic for modern anime faire. As the season rolled along I noticed a decent little fan base for this show popped up. I finally decided to give RnS a shot, and it became one of my favorite shows of the season.
RnS starts off with the story of a student named Satomi, whom is fortunate enough to find a small apartment for the insanely low price of 5,000 yen per month. He soon discovers his cheap apartment is also inhabited by the ghost of a young girl, and is also the target of an Invader from under the earth, a magical girl, and a traveler from a powerful interstellar empire of advanced magic and technology. Now Satomi and this group of strange yet adorable girls are in competition for control of this tiny apartment and the hidden power it contains, bound by a “treaty” set up by the landlord (whom is also not only another cute girl but also a powerful fighter with deadly flaming fists. Seriously.)
This all sounds really silly, and it very much is, but this show is as fun as it gets. The wacky cast is both cute and charming, and each character is given their time to shine in little story arcs centered on them. By the time this show is coming to a close, these invaders will have captured your heart. If you are looking for a good harem/romcom with some bits of action and adventure from time to time, this is the show for you.
(Survival Game Club)
Someone actually had the guts to do yet another anime about airsoft, after the brutal failure of Gainax’s attempt at one last year (even though I did enjoy C3-bu.) Will this one be a bigger success? Do we really need another anime about airsoft? Too bad, Sabagebu is here.
Unlike Gainax’s airsoft anime, Sabagebu doesn’t take itself seriously, ever. This one is pure comedy, paired with bloody, brutal “fight scenes” where the girls use their imagination to put 80’s action film-style blood and violence into their airsoft battles. The bloody airsoft gunfights are honestly the best part of the show, as they are both hilarious and intentionally campy.
The rest of Sabagebu’s comedy is based around the antics of the characters and their personalities, which is typical for lots of anime comedies. This yields mixed results, and hits a low point when a bunch of episodes in the middle of the season focus solely on this sort of comedy instead of the over-the-top “gunfights” that really make this show fun. This isn’t a bad show by any means, and even the worst episodes will deliver some laughs. The problem is the first couple episodes sort of “over-sell” the expectations of what is to come, and that seems to have left a lot of early fans feeling betrayed later on. Sabagebu still comes out as a decent comedy anime, and while it won’t please everyone, it is still worth a look.
Sailor Moon Crystal
First off and foremost, I will come right out and say I am not exactly a huge fan of Sailor Moon. I watched the first “season” with my sister when I was a teenager, and bits and pieces of the later story arcs. I did have fun watching it, but I won’t sit here and tell you I was some devout fan of the franchise, nor am I an expert on the lore. Take this into consideration before taking my thoughts on the reboot too seriously.
SMC arrived to a nostalgic set of old fans and newcomers alike, amidst some delay and a bit of controversy over whether or not the otaku is crowd is welcome to enjoy this one. That nonsense aside, SMC is now going full steam ahead, or at least half-steam, considering it airs on a bi-weekly schedule, which is kind of odd. This has been one of the most talked-about anime of the season, but is it worthy of all the buzz?
At the time of this article, there are only about 6 of the 26 proposed episodes of this out right now, so it is really hard for me to put my finger on a solid opinion of this. However, so far I’m not exactly impressed. Lousy pacing, some iffy quality issues, crumby CG transformation scenes, and yawn-inducing “battles” aren’t leaving much of a good impression. After decades of seeing magical girl anime reach new heights in shows like Cardcaptor Sakura, the Precure franchise, and newer, otaku-oriented magical girl anime like Nanoha and Madoka, this “rebooted” Sailor Moon feels bland and tired.
The original seemed more interesting than the reboot, despite a pile of filler and other issues, but that could be nostalgia talking. Even still, as someone that is willing to sit down and watch Precure, I’m finding SMC to be a bit of a chore to watch, and that is a bad sign. There is some potential for things to turn around, but realistically I see myself dropping this down the road before I can find out.
Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance
(Blade Dance of the Elementalists)
Blade Dance is a low-budget adaptation of a fairly popular fantasy light novel series, with a small but respectable fan base around the world. At a glance, Blade Dance feels like a cookie-cutter fantasy propped up by a cast of cute girls and harem hijinks. This is the sort of anime that shouldn’t be very noteworthy, and yet it brings enough charm to the table to end up being an entertaining show.
This is the tale of Kamito, a rare male “Elementalist”, a magician (usually female) that can contract with spirits and use magic. His talents land him in the prestigious Areishia Spirit Academy, a school where students hone their magical skills. And of course, Kamito is surrounded by cute girls that may or may not be interested in him. All of this stuff has been done before, and in better anime, but this show still manages to be come out with an interesting story, loveable characters, and even a handful of decent battles. I won’t tell you this show is a must watch, but I will say it may indeed be worth a look if any of this sounds like fun.
Space Dandy: Season 2
The western experiment known as Space Dandy has finally come to a conclusion. Even though the first half of this show left me with a lot of positive things to say and nothing but hope for the second half, now that this has concluded my final verdict is in. Have a seat, because I may dispense some rage here.
The second half of this show came out with a strong start. The strange, goofy mix that made this show fun to watch was back, and I was delighted for more and more. Unfortunately, as the season rolled along my opinion of this show began to falter. Big missteps like an episode devoted to “High School Musical”, and a SECOND fishing episode began a roller-coaster of highs and lows this show never quite seemed to recover from. Opinions on this season are as variable as the episodes themselves, but I couldn’t help but notice a chunk of fans falling out of love with this show as much as I did during the second half. By the time everything wrapped up in a spectacular final episode all of my excitement was drained from me.
When things wrapped up with a hint that this may get a third season, I actually groaned in discontent. Seeing as this show only seems to be “successful” in the west, a third season isn’t very likely, and if it happens it will likely end in disaster like many similar endeavors. I have to admit all of this really is a shame, but unfortunately Space Dandy was a little too experimental for its own good, and the scattershot approach to the overall direction of the show became its Achilles heel.
Sword Art Online 2
Did anyone out there think I would miss the potential ridiculousness of ANOTHER season of Sword Art Online? Kirito is back, and once again he must put his epic gamer skills to the test against a man that can kill you in a video game, FOR REALS. This time around there is a new VRMMO game that is all the rage, Gun Gale Online, an RPG/shooter hybrid. Don’t get me wrong, the game itself seems pretty awesome. I would play the shit out of it. Kirito has been hired by a government agent to track down a player known as “Death Gun”, who is thought to be able to kill GGO players in both the game and real life.
All of my complaints from the second arc of the original SAO are all here, especially Kirito’s ability to power through any bad situation with the sheer power of bullshit. That being said, the things I LIKED about SAO are also still here. At this point I have come to terms that SAO is “low brow” entertainment, even for anime standards. And with that line of thinking in place, SAO2 can be a lot of fun to watch.
Bringing the full might of a huge budget, SAO2 delivers an amazing and entertaining experience even if the writing is bad enough to make you bang your head against a wall at times. Deep down in my heart I know SAO2 truly is anime for the lowest common denominator, and yet I just can’t stop watching it. SAO2 is painfully stupid at times, but it is hard to deny it is also very fun. My opinions of this show aren’t going to convince fans to start critiquing SAO2 for what it is, and they aren’t going to bring any new viewers into the mix. In the end the best thing anyone can do is sit back and enjoy the ride, and that is exactly what I am doing.
Zankyou no Terror
(Terror in Resonance)
ZnT has more in common with an American crime drama or Hollywood film than your typical anime, and in this case that isn’t such a bad thing. This was featured on the Notinima block, and it was one of the best shows featured there in a while. ZnT is a story of a couple teenagers using terrorism to tell the world their story of human experimentation and government corruption.
This is one of those shows where you can almost feel yourself rooting for both the “good guys” and the “bad guys” at the same time. If anything the only major flaw of the show is that a good chunk of characters don’t feel like they were fleshed out properly, and because of that some of the more “emotional” scenes lose their impact. Some critics also point out that many of the techniques used by the terrorists in the show would not be effective in eluding the police, but at the same time I think people should remember that entertainment is not supposed to give criminals hints on how to do business. I enjoyed this show a lot, and I think it is worth a watch, even for more “casual” anime fans. The overall reception to this show seems to be fairly mixed, but anyone interested should at least give this one a try.