Ah yes, the summer heat is now truly upon us, giving us the perfect opportunity to stay indoors and watch anime (thank you 112 degree Arizona heat). I’ve prepared some short impressions of each anime I’m watching this season, for a total of six. I was going to try New Game! but never managed to squeeze it into my schedule. Oh well. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the 2016 Anime Season of Dreams.
Mob Psycho 100
Mob Psycho 100 was definitely my most anticipated “new” anime for summer. Coming from a highly praised animation studio, Studio Bones, and being an adaptation from a stellar mangaka, ONE, I had extremely high hopes going in and, from what I’ve seen thus far, I can comfortably say that I’m pretty satisfied. In term’s of story, the series, early on, isn’t breaking new ground. It focuses on a young psychic named Mob and his con-artist teacher, Reigen Arataka, a man who claims to be one of the newest and greatest psychic experts yet has no actual psychic ability. So far, we’ve gotten very little context into the Mob’s actual problem, being a ticking time bomb of psychic energy, and instead watching him perform simple exorcisms for his part-time job and attending school. That being said, the series is just plain fun, featuring ONE’s infamous dry humor and ability to turn basic problems into something over-the-top. From an artistic standpoint, Mob Psycho 100 is Studio Bones vomiting creativity and vibrant colors onto the screen. It’s amazing how it manages to stay true to ONE’s original style while presenting a clean and consistent modern feel. It’s simply stunning to look at. I’m excited to see more of Mob Psycho 100 in the coming weeks and I have a good feeling that it won’t disappoint. If you’re looking to whats new and interesting this season then I think this anime should be your first stop.
Episodes Watched: 2/12 Excitement Level: High NA Simulcast: Crunchyroll
Food Wars: The Second Plate
Thank god for J.C. Staff, the anime studio behind Food Wars. Without making us wait more than a year (good thing it wasn’t four years “cough” Attack on Titan “cough” what’s going on over there?), we’ve been allowed to rejoin our favorite culinary students in their quest to cook the most orgasm-inducing, I mean delicious, food possible and fight to the top of the cooking world. So far, Food Wars: The Second Plate has been everything we’ve expected: more of the Food Wars we love. It’s still just as over the top and exciting, feeling as though it never actually took a break. The second season takes place immediately after season one, starting with the first battle of the Autumn Elections: Soma vs Alice. Episode one is rare oddity in the series as it’s the first to feel extremely rushed. You can tell they wanted to return with a bang, packing the entirety of first battle in 21 minutes. It’s heart pounding and overwhelming, a stark contrast to the pace the series has taken up to this point, which flips between food battles and slice-of-life comedy. Afterwords, however, the show returns to its usual pacing, taking it’s time to explain the little details of the food and drop those lighthearted moments. Food Wars: The Second Plate is excellent and a series I can’t recommend enough. I’ll be surprised if anything takes it’s place as my #1 anime of summer 2016. Just remember if you decide to give it a shot that between the intense shounen-like battles, borderline hentai, and insane interpretations of food eating, it’s actually a show about food.
Episodes Watched: 3/13 Excitement Level: High NA Simulcast: Crunchyroll
Love Live! Sunshine!!
Love Live! is one of the anime I’ll admit to being extremely bias towards. It’s overly dramatic with its paper-thin plot and friendship heavy themes but I, personally, love it more for it. It’s an entire series about singing and dancing while being cute, silly, and emotional about becoming idols. It brings nine students together who, by the end, have a bond of friendship so strong it can metaphorically move mountains. Love Live! Sunshine!!, the new entry in the Love Live! anime series is no different from its predecessor in that regard. The show revolves around Chika, a fan of the main idol group of the first Love Live! anime, who now wishes to follow in the footsteps of µ’s become a school idol. Featuring a brand new cast of nine characters, I feared the series would follow beat-for-beat of the original series and, in some ways, it is but it’s doing so in a self-aware way. It wants to prove to the viewer that because of the path paved by µ’s, this new group can shine bright but it will do so in it’s own way, earning it’s own respect. It’s dramatic and hit emotions it definitely shouldn’t. Love Live! isn’t for everyone and Sunshine!! will prove to be no different. It’s more of what you love but also more of what you might not. If you enjoy Japanese pop music, a character heavy driven story, and want to follow the over-the-top emotional ride then give it a shot. There’s a lot to be excited about as a fan, plus the CGI dance scene finally look really good.
Episodes Watched: 3/?? Excitement Level: High NA Simulcast: Funimation
I went into Handa-kun just expecting a slightly more comedy-centric Barakamon, an anime that was already about 50% comedy. I realized quickly, however, that this prequel is far from what Barakamon sought out to be. Handa-kun‘s first episode showed me that outside of having a calligraphy genius named Handa as it’s main protagonist, the series stands as its own entity. The premise is this: Handa is loved and praised by all his high school peers but, unknowing all the attention is positive and wanting to just blend into the background, Handa believes everyone is actually out to get him. The series takes advantage of Handa’s misunderstanding and oblivious personality to create comedic moments where Handa actively tries to be left alone but ends up only getting more popular in the process. It’s honestly pretty hilarious and an all around enjoyable show. The first episode starts off slow with a group of kids who call themselves the Handa Fanclub but quickly picks up as soon as Handa takes the screen. The anime doesn’t require you to have watched Barakamon (which I had my concerns about) as it stands on its own two feet. If you’re looking for a funny series to kick back with then Handa-kun is definitely worth a try.
Episodes Watched: 2/12 Excitement Level: Medium NA Simulcast: Funimation
I’m not usually one to watch a romance/drama shoujo (anime aimed at the female demographic, opposite of shounen) as the few I’ve tried never managed to appeal to me early on. Orange, however, peeked my interest with it’s unique premise of the main protagonist receiving letters from herself in the future to keep from living with regrets plus the high praise the manga has received. Unfortunately, the anime just isn’t grabbing my attention. It’s slow, which is understandable early, but I’m struggling with its protagonist. She’s the insufferably shy type and slow to grasp the situation. She ignores the letter at first, not realizing they’re perfectly describing the events in front of her until the end of episode one where it gives her the push she needs to do something she wouldn’t have originally. While I personally feel that the majority of people would take more interest in a letter detailing the future, I understand how she could have brushed it off as something strange. What killed me later was watching her fail to follow the letter in episode two, giving us the run-around until the very end where she works up the courage to change a part of her fate. Early on, I feel like we’re spending entire episodes running around in circles because the protagonist isn’t proactive enough. I’m still interested in its premise and can see it becoming an emotional roller coaster, but due to its slow start I’ve deciding to wait until the series concludes at the end of summer before watching more. The protagonist needs time to get her characterization, which is fine, but I don’t feel like being slowly strung along on a week-to-week basis for it. Maybe I’m being impatient but it’s just the way I’ve felt watching the first two episodes.
Episodes Watched: 2/13 Excitement Level: Low NA Simulcast: Crunchyroll
This Art Club Has a Problem!
Cute, colorful, and fun: the three best words I can use to describe This Art Club Has a Problem! Focusing on the activities of a middle school art club, the series is divided into short, sometimes two or three, segments of their wacky shenanigans. Between the boy who just wants to paint 2D waifus, the president who never actually creates anything, and the wild trouble maker, there’s a lot keeping Usami Mizuki, the straight-man of the group and main character, on her toes as she just tries to do normal art club work. The comedy is pretty entertaining and contains it’s fair share of “cute girls doing cute things” moments to be a relaxing, fun anime. It’s not something I’m overly worried about keeping up with week-to-week but it’s there when I need it. I wouldn’t go into it expecting it’s romantic plot points to ever develop with it’s “too afraid to confess” protagonist but then again this is anime so why would you ever think someone is going to confess, at least not without being interrupted at the last minute. This Art Club Has a Problem! is a decent junk food anime to check out this season, if you’re in the market for that type of itch to be scratched.
Episodes Watched: 2/12 Excitement Level: Low NA Simulcast: Crunchyroll
Thanks for reading and make sure to check back around the end of the summer 2016 season for my short reviews. Also, feel free to talk about any anime you think is worth mentioning this season that I might have missed. For wild otaku ramblings, keeping checking back to this blog.