Truth be told this is a pretty anemic season of new anime. There’s a couple really good shows with a couple more that have the potential but the majority of the new anime shows seem to be merely shooting for being generically average and, it turns out, many are having trouble reaching that feeble goal.
On the upside, I might actually have time to write more since I’ll definitely be spending less time this season watching anime 🙂 .
(16) – Usagi Drop (Dropped)
Rating for episodes 1 to 4 – 2/12 F
With a heavy heart I have to start out with an anime that I was really looking forward too and thoroughly enjoyed over the first couple of episodes. This would easily be sitting in the top 5 right now if I didn’t break one of my personal rules about watching anime – never read the source material for a currently airing anime or upcoming anime until after the end of the anime series. I saw a spoiler about something that happens in the middle of the manga series which I thought was an ill-omen and, against my better judgment, I looked at how Usagi Drop ends and my head almost literally exploded. In a bad way. If the anime actually gets to the ending then Usagi Drop will go down as, quite possibly, the biggest troll anime ever. It’ll make Endless Eight look classy.
I tried to unsee what I saw and just enjoy the anime because I want to critique all anime independent of it’s relation to source material, personal bias, and assumptions but that’s a very difficult ideal to live up too and so I found myself examining every line of dialogue and action by the characters for how the ending will be justified. Then I tried to just force myself to keep watching but when a trip to the dentist becomes preferable to watching another episode then it’s time to move on. (I do have a nice dentist but it’s still the dentist.) I think this is the first time I’m hoping that the animators make up their own ending; maybe then, I’ll be able to finish Usagi Drop.
(15) – R-15
Rating for episodes 1 to 3 – 3/12 D
By rights, I should be dropping R-15 since it’s not a very good show but there are extenuating circumstances that will give it a reprieve for a few episodes. AIC, the production company, had been on a real tear of late making well-polished, above average fan service/comedy/(fill in the blank) anime series and I was hoping to see this string continue. So, on the strength of past successes, it’s getting an extended shot but I don’t think it’ll make a difference in the end.
The biggest problem is there’s no pizzazz to the characters; for a school supposed full of geniuses, you’d think the students wouldn’t be so generic and boring. The comedy isn’t really there either but, in R-15’s defense, sometimes the comedy of a series takes awhile to get going. The censoring is also annoying; not because I actually want to see yet another pantsu shot but because using huge white bars to censor is inelegant, visually jarring, breaks all sense of immersion, needless, inconsistent with past shows by AIC, and a cheap trick to attempt to drive up sales which almost assuredly doesn’t actually work.
(14) – No. 6 (Dropped)
Rating for episodes 1 to 4 – 4/12 C
For the preview of this anime season I mentioned how I was worried that Bones perpetual problems with pacing wasn’t going to mix well with the short 11 episode count that No. 6 was getting. As we near the halfway point, it appears those fears were justified. To be fair, there’s nothing glaringly wrong with No. 6, so far, that couldn’t be fixed with a proper episode count. However, for a show that’s almost at the halfway point there hasn’t been enough quality character development to make me actually care for any of the characters (except maybe the Mom) and the world building has been too shallow and featureless for me to actually care what the dark secret behind No. 6 is. For a much better take on this type of show, I recommend watching the live-action movie V For Vendetta.
(13) – Nekogami Yaoyorozu
Rating for episodes 1 to 4 – 4/12 C
The other show from AIC this season and, while it’s a little better then R-15, Nekogami Yaoyorozu still falls dreadfully short of it’s potential. With the right execution this should have been an easy homerun for AIC but, like R-15, it creates a setting (this time about a disgraced cat-god that lives in the home of an antique dealer) and doesn’t seem interested in fully utilizing the setting or the characters. Compare that to Mayo Chiki which exploits it’s characters and setting to the maximum and is a much better anime because of it.
The last episode I watched, episode 4, was a definite step up in quality from the first 3 which might signal that Nekogami Yaoyorozu will improve with time (or it was a fluke 🙂 ), so I’ll give this anime a few more episodes. Even if the show ultimately is a bust, the catchy opening song might just be enough to keep me watching until the end.
(12) – The Idolm@ster (Dropped)
Rating for episodes 1 to 3 – 5/12 C+
The Idolm@ster performed at almost exactly the level I guessed it would going in, which is to say almost average. (A 6/12 B- is what I consider a completely average anime.) The first episode, with it’s documentary style setup, reminded me of The Office and momentarily gave me hope that the animators were going to do something different with this anime but the next two episodes dashed those hopes. There’s nothing really wrong with The Idolm@ster but there’s also nothing really compelling about it that makes me want or need to continue watching this 2 cour (season) anime.
(11) – Sacred Seven
Rating for episodes 1 to 5 – 5/12 C+
Sacred Seven is another mediocre summer anime series that fells to deliver what the premise appears to promise. It’s failings are all the more apparent when compared with the other series Sunrise is currently animating – Tiger & Bunny. The characters here are weak, one-dimensional and cookie-cutter. The mechs are uninspiring and the action scenes are boring and the narrative flow so far has squandered much of it’s time that would have been better spent on building an interesting plot. The only reason I’m placing Sacred Seven this high is because of the value that the fansub group gg adds to Sacred Seven. There’s the one character’s trait of ending each sentence with oni which gg approximates by placing some variation of the word “hell” in the sentence. And there was episode 5 where they swapped the music out of the opening sequence and replaced it the song Riding Dirty which synced with the animation surprisingly well.
(10) – Yuruyuri
Rating for episodes 1 to 5 – 5/12 C+
At one time knowing that the principal people behind Yuruyuri were who they are would have gotten me excited and would have ensured that I covered it in my seasonal preview. I absolutely love season 1 of Minami-ke, the first series of theirs that I watched, and I still consider it my top anime comedy. However, they eventually followed with 2 seasons of another comedy series called Mitsudomoe and it wasn’t even close in terms of quality. So much so, that I decided that Minami-ke must have just been a lucky accident. This conclusion combined with an animation studio that doesn’t have much credibility for doing good anime and a yawn-inducing story kept me from listing it in my preview.
So why is it here?
In the end I figured I’d give it a chance, if only to confirm my conclusion and because I had the room to pick up another series because this season isn’t exactly overflowing with quality. The first few episodes where even worse then Mitsudomoe and I was prepared to drop it but decided to give it a few more episodes since by now I knew that I’d be dropping at least three other anime series in my already small pool of new anime series. I watched episode 4 and saw definite improvement and episode 5 showed improvement over episode 4 (even if they had to recycle a joke skit from episode 1 of Minami-ke). I still don’t much care for the cast except for the glasses-wearing, nose-bleed-over-imagined-fantasy character; she’s voiced by Aki Toyosaki, best known for voicing Yui from K-On!(!), and she’s doing it with such an over-the-top gusto that she steals every scene she’s in. It’s still not perfect, not by a long shot, but there’s some actual hope that Yuruyuri becomes a decent comedy series.
And a final point about Yuruyuri, I hope I’m not the only one who thinks the school uniforms look like they were designed to be maternity school uniforms.
(9) – Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi
Rating for episodes 1 to 3 – 6/12 B-
I have to be honest, I don’t know what to make of Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi nor do I have a good read on if it’ll end up being worth watching or not. In cases such as this I stick to the grade that all anime start out at – 6/12 B- – until it starts earning a higher or lower score. Most seasons these undefinable shows are far enough down my list that I don’t have to worry about the appearance of recommending them but this time Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi is ranked relatively high at number 9.
The basic gist of this anime is that the male main character (of high school age, naturally) made a deal many years ago with someone not human and as a result he’s given the ability to come back from death as many as 6 times over a 15 minute period before truly dying. Through various incidents he forgets all of this and lives a normal life until one fateful day.
What’s making it difficult to really measure this anime at this point is that there’s many different thematic parts to Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi – comedic, fan-service, horror, and serious – and they really haven’t gelled together yet. And it’s being done by Zexcs, not the greatest studio to be handling an anime.
It’ll be interesting to see where Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi will end up by the end of this season.
Part 2 will be coming in a day or in a week depending on if I can get it posted before I go on vacation or after I come back. 🙂