Posted by SuperWooper on 10 June 2019 with categories: Seasonal Previews

Wooper: The sun is shining, the temperature is rising, and the anime just keeps on coming. It’s time for our quarterly season preview, which we’ve trimmed down so it can look its best for the summer. Unlike previous editions, we won’t be examining every new show in this post. Instead, we’ve picked the 16 most promising and/or popular shows to preview (though there’s a bit of fodder near the start), and kept the rest confined to the poll down below. We’re still planning to give our thoughts on every summer series during First Impressions week, but when it comes to the season preview, we want to highlight the good stuff – or at least the stuff that won’t make you wonder why you’re an anime fan.

Most seasons have just a few great titles concentrated at the top, and this one is unlikely to be an exception. What’s interesting about this particular summer, though, is that the three most anticipated non-sequels are all action or adventure series. Two of them are big shounen properties, which our authors tend to have mixed opinions on, but these appear to have some serious promise. Will this be the miracle season where we all agree on what’s top tier, or will a handful of underdogs steal the spotlight once July gets underway? We’ll find out in a few weeks, but for now, let’s run down what might be worth your watch this summer.

Which series are you interested in for the 2019 Summer Season?
41 votes · 143 answers
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Kengan Ashura

Studio: Larx Entertainment
Director: Seiji Kishi
Series composer: Makoto Uezu
Source: Web Manga

Mario: Another Netflix original offering and this show looks and tastes like Baki from last year, with the trailer focusing solely on their fights. Moreover, it’s an entirely CG show that sadly doesn’t look that polished. While all these are enough for me to discard this show, there’s one saving grace from the show that holds me back. The key here is the director Seiji Kishi, who directed popular hits like Angel Beats, Assassination Classroom, and MY TYPE OF SHOWS such as Humanity Has Declined, Tsuki ga Kirei and Asobi Asobase. That being said, apart from Assassination Classroom, this is the first anime where he ventures over to shounen action-centric material, and the fact that this is his first full CG project doesn’t spark much confidence. I don’t know. I grow mixed on the Netflix model when it comes to how they handle their original anime. It’s true that they have larger budgets and allow more creative freedom, but for me they aim for more mainstream tastes. Stuff like Baki, this one or Ultraman last season aim for specific fanbases, and their more flashy titles: Carole & Tuesday, Little Witch Academia, Violet Evergarden are products of famed directors/studios producing something weaker than their true talents. Maybe just like last season’s work by Kenji Kamiyama (Ultraman), this one will come and go with a weak splash before vanishing altogether.

 

Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou

Studio: Asread, White Fox
Director: Kinji Yoshimoto
Series composer: Shoichi Sato
Source: Light Novel

Wooper: I managed to sprint through a few chapters of the Arifureta manga before I had to bail out. It’s based on a light novel, but assuming the manga’s story and characters are the same, the author must have been playing isekai bingo when he conceptualized the series. The MC is an Average Gamer who somehow attracts the attention of the school idol, and is therefore hated by all the handsome, athletic bros in his class. One day, when their bullying gets particularly vicious, he wishes they’d all get transported to a parallel world – and that’s exactly what happens. Video game logic sets in pretty quickly, everybody starts dungeon crawling, and eventually the nice guy protagonist is betrayed by one of his classmates and loses an arm. Last year’s Shield Hero was insulting enough; I don’t need to read any further to recognize this as one of its clones. Really, the only reason I previewed this was to look back and say “I told you so” when its defenders get to the penultimate episode and realize it was a waste of time. Not even White Fox, who usually do good work with fantasy series, can save this premise. In summary, if you’re thinking about watching this, don’t.

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Posted by SuperWooper on 17 June 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Mix

Good news for all you Mix fans out there: the show is likely to be two cour, as the Wikipedia page for its timeslot doesn’t have a replacement listed until October. That means three more months of baseball, romance, and mystifying Japanese puns before Hero Academia S4 kicks Mix off the air for the fall season. I’m very glad for the extension, as the show has settled nicely into its high school phase, and is dedicating entire episodes to character work before kicking off the baseball season. Fans who got into this series for the home runs and double plays might be disappointed with its simple, conversational style, but I find every scene to be rewarding, both taken on their own and viewed as groundwork for the future.

Take Haruka’s character, for instance. After breaking out of love interest hell last week, we learn plenty more about her in the follow-up: her folks are living apart, she’s still in contact with her mom (who slips in and out of their apartment before Goro comes home), and she feels blessed to have two parents who follow their dreams. The scene where she and her dad discuss the surprise visit is funny, as Haruka repeats her mother’s claim that she could only write comedies while living with Goro. Then there was his attempt at subtly asking whether Mom left any money behind – another in a long series of jokes about his mooching ways. But it wasn’t all laughs, either. The scene also played host to a touching daddy/daughter moment, as Haruka affirms that she’s proud of her single dad for doing what he loves. On top of that, it’s worth noting that she turns away from him and back to preparing dinner before “I feel blessed” passes her lips. Though the music is placid and the mood sincere, you can read that she still struggles with her family situation, which I’d bet my bottom dollar will resurface in the future.

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Posted by Lenlo on 17 June 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Kimetsu no Yaiba

Welcome to another episode of Kimetsu no Yaiba! This week we finally meet the rest of our leading group, find a new Demon and deal with some… odd tonal issues. Lets dive in!

Starting off, Zenitsu. I have to say, whatever Yaiba is planning with him, so far I am not impressed. The man was just so incredibly… annoying. Right off the bat I am not the favorite of this cowardly archetype. Yet Yaiba did what it does and dialed him up to 11. With the entire first half just being his whiny voice ad-nauseam. Simply put, Zenitsu was way over-done at the start of the episode. Really putting me off him. It’s sad to, because there are definite hints to more around his character. With Zenitsu splitting the food Tanjiro gave him, or actually fulfilling his role as a Demon Slayer when he could run at any time. Yaiba makes it clear there is more to him. Yet because of the opening 11 minutes, both his character and the episode as a whole, suffer.

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Posted by SuperMario on 17 June 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fruits Basket (2019)

Fruits Basket gets a bit better this week, though not by a wide margin. This week is a return of Momiji, the most childish character we’ve seen so far in this show (until we learn that he’ll reach high school next year). The White Valentine approaches, and he wants to bring Tohru to the onsen as a thank-you gift. Fruits Basket so far has been, for me, formulaic. Not in a way that it repeats its structure, but more in a way that it uses established tropes for its main events (or is it the one who invited all these tropes? It’s hard to tell but one thing I can say for sure is that it feels dated nonetheless). So a hot-spring/ beach episode would be right in its money. As a whole, I don’t mind this episode as it still provides some solid moments, but I still have that feeling of Fruits Basket padding its material too thin. At this point the trio’s dynamics are pretty much in the balance now, and unless something significant can throw off the balance, they don’t progress as much as they hope to. Drama, after all, is an essential part of character development.

It’s Momiji’s involvement that gives this episode a change of fresh air. While he isn’t the character that I’m particularly fond of (at this moment we just see the childish side of him), his narration regarding the grim story that his class read, remains the best moments of the episode. As per Fruits Basket tradition, one of its strengths is the way it can draw out the emotional tale based on its flashback or story-within-a-story like this one. The content is certainly grim and dark, but it’s the way Momiji reflects on that story that we have a glimpse of his deeper feeling here. It’s not a totally convincing storytelling though, as it OBVIOUSLY allures Yuki and Kyou to Tohru’s current selfless act, but by its own it’s a perfectly fine story that would fit nicely to any Andersen’s sad fairytale classic.

The other nice moment that we don’t see very often, is when Yuki getting loose and laughs at Tohru’s clumsiness. As he remarks “I have never laughed like this even to my parents”, we could see the way his tight upbringing has a profound effect on him, and how with Tohru he becomes much more relaxing and just being himself. That comes with a cost, though, when you think about it, that he will become more emotional dependant on Tohru, and who knows what would happen to him if Tohru’s going away for good. There’s a romance in the air as well as Yuki making a really romantic gesture (that makes our Tohru blushing) before faking it as a joke. Go all the way, dude!

There’s another newcomer to this cast. The frail innkeeper, in a typical Fruits Basket character stock, is a mixture of two extremes. Frail and vulnerable at one moment, aggressive and violent when it comes to Kyou (many characters in Fruits Basket seem to be overtly aggressive towards Kyou alone, huh?). She’s actually a mother of an original Zodiac member, Ritchan the Monkey. I’d say that we will have a proper introduction of this Ritchan pretty soon, probably in the next episode, and I hope that he will be a worthy addition to this ensemble cast.

 

Posted by SuperMario on 17 June 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Sarazanmai

The body count keeps rising up in the final stretch of Sarazanmai. With this episode we get to the end of Reo and Mabu’s pair, and it’s certainly a bittersweet experience. As it turns out, we eventually learn that Mabu sacrifices his “desire” to Reo in order to physically stays behind him. So it’s Reo who upsets by Mabu’s change and ruins their relationship. Their star-crossed love certainly touches on many Sarazanmai’s core themes, those being the desire to connect with the one they love but even to their best interest, they’re still failed to reach it. Well, there’s this evil Otter who asserted himself as “desire” and “take whatever form others desire the most” that always want to mess with others, but Mabu’s final confession to Reo, knowing the outcome, that is emotional powerful and closes their relationship in a bitter end. For Sarazanmai, although the term “connection” is shouted by all the characters, Sarazanmai’s philosophy isn’t simply about the ability to connect (although there are plenty of these – take Haruki and his younger brother, for example), but it’s also about the love vs desire, the feeling of love vs physical temptation – and more than our trio, Mabu & Reo relationship is a perfect illustration of that theme.

With the cops’ relationship, while they fully love each other, evil Otter is the one who exploits their desire from each other. What Otter believe is that love and desire can never be in conjunction with each other, and that the desire is some form of sin (to extract love or desire – if you hit “desire”, you’ll turn into kappa zombie). With that I can understand the condition he gave to Mabu: if Mabu wants to stay with Reo, he has to give up love. Sarazanmai further explores that central theme by having the Evil Otter in the form of Reo going on top of Mabu. It’s all the fitting (and bittersweet) that when Mabu decides to embrace his true feelings with Reo, his heart explodes. Although now in retrospect, I would love to know more about the Cops (who we learn used to be kappa themselves), especially in the first half we barely know about them, the show did wrap their tragic story in an emotional note.

At the same time, we get the reveal where that Dark Kappi in cage is our Kappi split in half. While I don’t mind this flow of information, the manner in which Sarazanmai displays, info-dumping us with details we can’t figure out by ourselves, is a tad bit disappointment. I have never been fully invested by the Kappa vs Otter war, and now I have come to believe the show has the same opinions because they are hardly relevant in this final stretch. Otter turns out to be a manifestation of each character’s desire, but where exactly does he born and how many of them?

In a way, I still think that the 1-cour structure fits Sarazanmai’s story neatly, as the show resolves the Mabu-Reo conflict one episode before the finale, which means that the last episode is when the spotlight again squarely focus on our main trio. And what a series of twists and turns in the final moments when Toi shows up to demand the Golden Dish, when Kazuki in on his verge of reviving Enta. The after-credit scene immediately resolves this conflict, but at a price of Toi being exploited by Evil Otter. Toi is broken at the moment, which serves as a perfect victim for Otter. Only 1 episode left, Sarazanmai is on its way for an ultimate roller-coaster ride.

Posted by SuperMario on 16 June 2019 with categories: Carole & Tuesday, Currently Watching:

“Do the gravity bounce?”

Once again it’s GGK’s performance becomes my favorite of this week, and Angela’s style still is too mainstream for my taste. With the pacing of this episode I am more certain that this Brightest Mars competition is gonna take up the first half of the series. Things don’t look good for our duo, though, with a string of mishaps that go against their way period to their semi performance, some of them are good, some are cringe-worthy. On the positive side, Etergun becomes this round’s guest judge is an interesting move that I’m eager to see him facing up Carol & Tuesday again. Although I still find it strange that Ertegun still has no idea about the contestants at this point. On the opposite spectrum, Tuesday’s whatever-reason she’s still hang up on Cybelle is stupid, which makes it worse by the way the show intensifies that as the way the duo is “out of sync” (the bit where they’re just barely missed each other in the elevator is just dumb). Then we also have Carole failed give her birthday gift to Tuesday (why? You had all the time in the world since basically you’re living on the same roof now). Then as if the show doesn’t feel these are enough, they make sure to give Carole and Tuesday hell by having Tuesday injured by this bomb present box or whatever the hell it is. Sorry to be grumpy but all these developments are way too half-baked.

As for the performances themselves, Angela changes her song at last minutes (thanks to Tao’s godsend gut feeling) and shows the judge that she has range. I find the bickering between Gus and Angela’s Mama through Roddy is amusing. They sure get along well. At this moment I have no idea how the show handles Cybelle and Tuesday relationship. I hope I am in the wrong but it’s more likely that the one who sent the bomb gift was Cybelle, since she knows about Tuesday’s personal information. If that is the case, the show’s handling of Cybelle character is indeed very shaky. Well, not much else to say in this layer-thin episode beside that with Benito’s head over heels with Pyotr’s performance, I suppose Catherine will pick Carole & Tuesday and that would make Ertegun the one who holds the decisive gun regarding the duo’s fate. We all know the result but let’s see how the show handles all this.

Posted by Lenlo on 16 June 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Serial Experiments Lain, Throwback Thursday

Hello all and welcome to another episode of Serial Experiments Lain! Apologies for the lateness and brevity on this one, was/am feeling rather sick as this week wrapped up. Oddly enough, the addled state of mind may have helped me understand Lain better. As this week we get a lot of answers, the Knights become more active and the line between Reality and Wired gets even thinner. Lets dive in!

Starting once again with Production, Lain did a lot of interesting things this week. Not that Lain isn’t interesting normally, but it got really experimental with it this week. Specifically, I am talking about the homeless man and his VR headset. Lain tried a lot of different filters to this, experimenting with odd changes to the footage. Whether it be taking real life footage and applying some kind of filter over it or just screwing with reality. It was a lot of fun to look at, and I really enjoyed the homeless man, even if he wasn’t a lead character. Basically, we got to see a lot of the tech/Wired aspect of the show, and I thought that was good. Now though, onto the actual story content of the episode.

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Posted by Lenlo on 13 June 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, One Punch Man S2

Sigh, it was nice having a free week of no OPM. No disappointment, not falling opinion of an acclaimed manga series. Just free time and no post I had to write. Now we are back though, and JC Staff has once again screwed it up. So join me as this week we talk music.

For me, the biggest issue with this week was the choice of music. Simply put, OPM S2 not only doesn’t have any good original tracks, but it reuses the same ones to much. For example, the “emotional” music of this episode was used a ludicrous amount. Being thrown over every scene they could. One or two of these is fine, its a fine piece of music. But when played over and over and over, it loses all power. And that’s not even mentioning if the scene even fits the music in the first place. Really, the sound design has been horrible across the entire series. From punches, to VA work and now to music, the general quality of the sounds in OPM are simply disappointing.

Sadly, I am going to have to cut this one short here though. While there isn’t much to say beyond this, I feel bad for leaving such a short post. But I seem to have come down with something, and its making even writing coherent sentences now difficult. Hopefully it clears up tomorrow, and I can get Lain written up for you. Until then though, suffice to say, OPM S2 is still a dumpster fire and if your actually still watching it, I pity you. Its not worth your time and I promise you, its not going to get a good score here.

So, my shame at writing virtually nothing aside, I will see you next week!

Posted by Lenlo on 12 June 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Dororo

Another week, another episode of Dororo. This time we follow up with Nui, the mother, Hyakki falls off the deep-end and Tahomaru gets one up on his brother. Lets dive in!

Starting off, recently I have been skipping the production portion of these posts. 22 episodes in, you know what your getting at this point. However, recognition where its due, Dororo looked good this week. Outside the battles everything was a standard, acceptable quality. Nothing worth really getting hung up on. However I found Hyakkimaru’s scenes to be a treat. The fire and depiction of the flaming horse looked great. Everything was stylized and in general I found it a joy to look at. Someone clearly had a lot of fun with the almost liquid fire effects we saw, the wind, and the motion of Hyakki atop the horse. It makes it clear that, when MAPPA wants to, Dororo can standout and look good. It’s just not often that Dororo does so, nor is it particularly consistent. Now though, onto the story.

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Posted by SuperMario on 11 June 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fruits Basket (2019)

It’s Valentine’s Day for Fruits Basket, although in this episode the actual Valentine isn’t the main focus. It’s another week of “I wish something major happens” for me. At this point, I have come to believe that follow the manga’s structure stall the pacing for me, as the show pads out its material way too thin at this moment. We need new blood or some compelling drama. This isn’t to say this episode doesn’t provide any dramatic reach. Shigure’s complexity has been planted before in previous episodes, but only this week do we see the extent he’s willing to do to reach his goal. For whatever goal that is we’re pretty much left unknowingly. This episode we only aware of his childhood dream, the dream which still pretty much stay inside his adult self and guides him forward, even if it means that he would hurt the ones beside him, especially Tohru. I suspect the seed that he planted is to allow Tohru to stay over Souma’s house, which in turn change fundamentally both Yuki and Kyou. We also know that he harbors hatred towards Akito, probably for the thing he did regarding Hattori. We don’t know much about Akito’s situation but we can see he’s in pain right now, and Shigure’s hatred can come as far as enjoying Akito’s pain. This is some neat material right there.

Another significant action that Shigure did this week is when he challenges Kyou, and as he knowingly put it later on, he “went too far”. There seems to be an underlying reason that Kyou seems to be in conflict Yuki’s rat status, and that might have to do with Kyou’s violent flashback when he got out of control, somehow. There are still many things left unsaid here, and like what Shigure puts, they are merely a ripple on the water at the moment. Kaguya appears to Kyou for a Valentine double date, but surprisingly we get very little out of that date (which for me is for the better). The only detail that we gathered is an action anime they see in theatre, which ironically have more animation than the actual show.

It’s important to note that all the core cast of Fruits Basket have some sad memories about their childhood that perfectly form their personality and their motivation as they are now, which makes for a meaty drama. And I still consider when it comes to executing the drama, Fruits Basket rank amongst the best of its genre. The problem for me right now is that they need to move on from the status quo, and put our main cast into more conflicts. As of now if they all stay in balance, they have a tendency to become tropey (Tohru is the worst offender), so let’s hope that Fruits Basket will head to some meaty material soon.

Posted by SuperMario on 11 June 2019 with categories: Carole & Tuesday, Currently Watching:

Episode 09 of Carole & Tuesday is essentially Brightest Mars part 2, as we spend an entire episode to the bottom half of the bracket. This is where I wish the staff spends that much attention to details to its writing, rather than music writing, because all the songs played in this episode are featured in full performances, and good ones on top of that. Angela’s performance, unfortunately, is amongst my least favorite one. It screams “Top 40” material for me. At many turns, I could see the show set itself up for some surprise payoff: like it could go the opposite way to make Cybelle the winner, for instance; or how Cybelle’s obsession can affect Tuesday in a more significant way, but they’re not the case at all. Instead, the whole thing plays out rather predictably, with Angela proves herself to be more “serious” in her music than the judges initially thought. But the issue with that is that, as we the audiences follow Angela right where she switches career, there’s little development from here to indicate that she’s actually serious about music at all. On a similar note, I was expecting the AI judge to comment about her music (as her music is monitored by the AI freak composer), but turned out he didn’t leave any comment at all. I believe he’ll be more critical later on but for now he works as comedic relief at best.

Otherwise, we have a rather fun episode of the remaining contestants showing their fangs. Hilarious and misguided in similar measure, the Mermaid plays a song consists entirely of swear words. Imagine what would have been to listen to this song with censored version: all we hear will be an uninterrupted beep. They say that this song says who they are, a gender-ambiguous state, but for me it’s more like their attitude towards the rest. But the tune is charming nonetheless. At the risk of taking these characters lightly (I do think the show is guilty of that), there’s still a fine craft to the songwriting there. The same can be said for GGK (I believe she’s based from real life FKA Twigs) and Cybelle’s songs, which have mysterious air, dreamy and exactly my kind of songs. In a perfect world, Cybelle’s performance would beat Angela’s at any time.

There are some hints towards other development Carole & Tuesday might tackle in the future. Earlier when we hear about Carole’s mother press, she mentioned the fact that the Earth has cast a shadow upon Mars (or so my sub implies). I don’t even know what she means but if it were a life-changing event, this thread might be tangled with Carole & Tuesday in the future (remember the “8 miniutes that changed Mars” bit). It’s also worth noting that Tao is noticing our girls’ talents, more as he notices the non-AI sound from our duo, which will add as a fuel for more rivalry between them and Angela. Gut and Angela’s Mama has some nice bounce off as managers from each side, but they again play more for laugh. Lastly, I like the way Cybelle controls over Tuesday, which makes a nice point that Tuesday has to voice up her own opinion, even if that’s a rejection. The factor that left me unsatisfied, however, is that this conflict is resolved way too quickly and slightly that it feels underwritten and awkward.

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Mix – 11 [Try Pitching]

Good news for all you Mix fans out there: the show is likely to be two cour, as the Wikipedia page for its timeslot doesn’t have a replacement listed until October. That means three more months of baseball, romance, and mystifying Japanese puns before Hero Academia S4 kicks Mix off the air for the fall […]

Kimetsu no Yaiba – 11 [Tsuzumi Mansion]

Welcome to another episode of Kimetsu no Yaiba! This week we finally meet the rest of our leading group, find a new Demon and deal with some… odd tonal issues. Lets dive in! Starting off, Zenitsu. I have to say, whatever Yaiba is planning with him, so far I am not impressed. The man was […]

Fruits Basket (2019) – 11 [A Really Wonderful Hot Spring]

Fruits Basket gets a bit better this week, though not by a wide margin. This week is a return of Momiji, the most childish character we’ve seen so far in this show (until we learn that he’ll reach high school next year). The White Valentine approaches, and he wants to bring Tohru to the onsen […]

Sarazanmai – 10 [I Want to Connect, but I Can’t]

The body count keeps rising up in the final stretch of Sarazanmai. With this episode we get to the end of Reo and Mabu’s pair, and it’s certainly a bittersweet experience. As it turns out, we eventually learn that Mabu sacrifices his “desire” to Reo in order to physically stays behind him. So it’s Reo […]

Carole & Tuesday – 10 [River Deep, Mountain High]

“Do the gravity bounce?” Once again it’s GGK’s performance becomes my favorite of this week, and Angela’s style still is too mainstream for my taste. With the pacing of this episode I am more certain that this Brightest Mars competition is gonna take up the first half of the series. Things don’t look good for […]

Serial Experiments Lain – 7 [Society] – Throwback Thursday

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One Punch Man S2 – 9 [The Ultimate Dilemma]

Sigh, it was nice having a free week of no OPM. No disappointment, not falling opinion of an acclaimed manga series. Just free time and no post I had to write. Now we are back though, and JC Staff has once again screwed it up. So join me as this week we talk music. For […]

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