Early Decisions: Summer 2015 Season

If SAO is our standard bearer of Mary-Sues in recent memory, what makes of GATE and Overlord? This is a rhetorical question I suppose. But I find myself honing in on the political undertones first.

Million Lives

Even before that though, there needs a hook, sometimes. What is the hook in Gangsta? Crime and violence? Sex and violence? Grit? Ha. Hahaha. Maybe the whole dogtag thing? Maybe it’s just the mood I’m in but it almost felt like the show is an insult of actual criminals and gangsters? Which may be okay. Perhaps even more okay, if it turns out that way, is if Gangsta becomes an insult of the genre. I don’t know and wouldn’t know, though, because I missed the hook; a reason to watch the next episode. Other than Mamiko’s character not dying in the first episode? Didn’t these people watch Cowboy Bebop? I guess if you were one of those people who watched Bebop as a result of its critical acclaim, maybe I’ll join you on Gangsta.

On that note, if Haramii is the standard bearer of “boob voice” then that could explain why is she in another MMORPG anime? I mean don’t get me wrong I love her role in Overlord. It’s a lovely hook. That show is also my favorite of the season for some reason. It’s like Log Horizon for me. If Log Horizon for you was shipping and the adoring of a little assassin character, maybe Overlord is not for you. Still, the two have some strong similarities in the narrative approach and setting. I realize people don’t prioritize these things the way I do but I feel Overlord is an improvement on the setting building aspect of Log Horizon in some ways.

Speaking of hook, I thought School Alive had a wonderful pilot. It’s the perfect embodiment of that famous(?) fan fiction about Bottle Fairies and split personalities. It doesn’t go that distance however, and I’m pretty meh on zombies. And maybe even more so on crazy (in a clinical sense) anime characters. It does seem quite entertaining so I’m not hung up on the fact that I haven’t gotten around to it. Another season with no time to watch everything I want to watch, is just a fact we have to deal with.

I’m not even hung up on the fact that I didn’t get around Prison School. I thought I would by now but I guess I thought my time would be better used to make maids in eroge or something. Probably not too different than being up to date to the Wife Is the Student Council President except more time consuming.

I feel good about the Hackadoll anime next season–believe it or not it’s my most hyped upcoming show that I can remember off the top of my head. The other shows on the same anime blocks this season are all pretty okay, and they are all served well by the 8-minute format. Even Wooser… I guess. That one seemed a little borderline because some of the recent episodes felt it went on for just too long. In a weird way I’m also looking forward to the cameo they could mix. I mean it’s clear that Miss Monochrome and Wooser are shows that are open to straight cameos. Hackadoll is even more so when the “IP” itself is about discovery of other IP, to the degree that it outright endorses and what not. Kind of like if Gamers or Animate made their own serious shows, what would be in them? I mean the Hackadoll namas… If you are into the WUG seiyuus (and Ueda Reina) they’re a must watch, and you’ll get what I mean by cameos (maybe).

Supposedly that Hayamin anime with Red Riding Hood naming is good. That’s like people saying Oremonogatari is good. It would be nice if someone can go into details and elaborate on how they could be relevant.

I am also watching Rokka. It’s not that good, in fact every episode felt off-putting. It does serve well with a choppy pace of things, so in this instance I enjoy the plot more so than anything. It takes its time during these “unusual” moments, almost awkwardly, so that could be why every week it feels off-putting. It’s like you  know a cliffhanger is coming but the show misses its timing in telling you what you already know. Maybe I’ll drop at some point, but I’d like to give all the new characters a chance to make an impression. So far only the main dude guy is of any interest… Pikasha playing the lead female is well-deserved but the precarious princess probably won’t get her day in the spotlight until much later.

The opposite problem happens in Million Doll. The concept and story are both right up my ally and the level of meta-ness is perfect, but the anime is lacking to say the least. I kind of hoped the animation is at least good enough so I remember everyone’s names by like 5 episodes, but given the very short length I can cut it some slack. Crunchyroll recently streamed episode 5.5, which means we now get to see Yuiton’s full length legs with English subtitles. That I can accept, since she is just there the whole time, but of the entire length of the fan meeting, why those segments? Specifically, why the segment that points out she’s from Osaka? LOL. I guess it works.

That nicely segue into Sore ga Seiyuu, which is obviously a must watch for me. It’s sad people compare it to Shirobako when the two are actually nothing alike. Of course, they are also entirely alike in their glamorized/deglamorizing view of the industry, but why would anyone watch something like that? Joke aside, it’s nice to finally see some drama this week. It’s funny to see how Kugyuu and Hocchan are in their cartoon flesh. It’s especially amusing if you think about the various versions of herself that Horie had to play in the recent years. That said unless you are a seiyuu otaku of some measure this is not exactly going to be enjoyable. In a lot of ways, Sore ga Seiyuu gives you the inside look at a voice actress’s internal thoughts rather than the internal working of an animation project. It’s much more personal and also a lot less compelling/hit or miss, unless you have already a hook there.

[Here’s an aside. Take Yoshimura Haruka as an example. She’s still a “newbie seiyuu” in the technical sense, soon to graduate out of that bracket. It seems that she shares some of these exact anxieties our protagonists share, if you read this interview. Even the way she name dropped Pe and Nu, or her coleads from Shirobako… Also, thank goodness for IDOLM@STER, right?]

What is always enjoyable is great seiyuu performances. I feel like that every time I watch Monster Musume because there is nothing else redeeming about the show. The voice acting is carrying it. Well, maybe one other thing: the political undertone. I mentioned in a chat once but if we think about MonMusu as a harem with fantastical creatures combined with harem characters, we realize isn’t the only IP on the market with that concept. Even Bakemonogatari and the like, really, is merging the plight of a young girl with the notion of some eastern phantom. And it’s not alone. Normal, quiet guy’s life gets upended by rowdy and over-excited young women trying to bone him? Except this time, they’re not Cat Planet Cuties. The monster fetishes aside, isn’t this what we can call, for the lack of a better term, a “gaijin harem”? The immigration issues too certainly highlight this. How does a normal, if model, Japanese specimen deal with these foreign intruders? They clearly mean well but they’re a handful, as they gaijin smash into your heart. What to do?

Joke aside, Monmusu doesn’t deserve 2 paragraphs, let alone faint praise in the form of thematic exploration of its parallel with western notion of liberty and romance (and other aspects of everyday life…Cat Planet Cuties does, though). Maybe Charlotte does, but I can’t watch that show objectively devoid of my Mocho biases and tendencies. It’s a great show and her character is decidedly similar to her business persona. The story and characters are who you expect them to be, knowing Charlotte’s Maeda Jun roots. I hope for the best, and PA Works so far is doing a good job. And knowing that, we are way too early in the game to pass any real judgment on it, even if the story has been placing hints along as expected.

The other original title I like this season is Classroom Crisis. It can be really good, it can be mediocre, but it probably won’t be bad. It’s a little boring but I’m ossan enough to enjoy that kind of boredom. Cobalt is a great song and probably my favorite this season. There’s also some social commentary as undertone here that’s pretty enjoyable, if kind of wrong-headed.

Shimoseka is clearly socially interesting, but it’s also interesting from the seiyuu perspective. And beyond that, the story is a little interesting. I don’t think it’s tapping into the full potential of the premise and I’m not sure I like how it exists in the school context because that puts the weird things it can pull in line with other stories in the same setting, but I’m willing to let it prove me wrong. At the very least it can be fun on the basis that the anime is about a bunch of perverted jokes.

I tried the first episode of several shows above and dropped them, but also Aoharu x Machinegun, Actually I, and Ushio & Tora (which had a really good episode 1 that’s just like the one I saw 15+ yr ago). I don’t think I would mind watching more but there wasn’t anything compelling. Actually the first one up there was particularly tough, since it’s not my kind of thing? I probably would be watching Symphogear except I cannot be arsed to undrop shows from years ago. Praise it more guys, maybe I will change my mind (lol).

On the notes for sequels, I am enjoying Non Non Biyori a lot, and this take is brilliant. Less brilliant is Working season 3. It puts me to sleep. In fact it inspired me to track often each show this season has done so:

[Title]: [Ep count that I fell asleep on]/[Ep count watched]

Working!!!: 4/5
Monmusu: 2/6
Classroom Crisis: 0/6
Gate: 0/6
Non Non: 0/6
Rokka: 1/5
Gatchaman S2: 1/3
Charlotte: 0/6
Shimoseka: 1/3
Sore ga Seiyuu: 0/6
Overlord: 0/6
IMAS CG: LOL/Every episode twice

I think I fell asleep on an ep of Wakaba Girl. Anyways, I ignored the short stuff because of the obvious reasons. Back to Working. I think it’s the A/B format each episode uses, it would mean the slow part of the ep puts me away and I would wake up on the good part or vice versa. Not much I can do besides trying to watch it not when food coma is coming or at a time when I am not tired. I guess a positive way to spin this is that Working is disarmingly funny, and relaxes me. The negative way to spin this is that it’s just a boring same-recipe-every-time gag that has expired last season.

I’m also of two minds on Gatchaman Crowds Insight (two different minds), so I’ll keep that to myself for now and make a call later once I am more caught up. It’s on the to-watch list for sure.

Still up to date on Food Wars and Baseball A.

Yeah I’m watching IM@S CG. Lately it’s been good. Not sure that is because the episodes are good or I’m still under the influence of 10th. Most likely both.

Last but not least, Teekyuu backlog ever increasing. And I don’t mind the least.


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