A thoughtful response to current anime.

Summer Anime Season 2013 – The Summer of Boys

Spring is over and Summer has begun! Spring had a few decent shows, Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko being the standout, but given that the spring and fall anime seasons are supposed to be when all the A-list anime air, it was a little underwhelming.  The big, hyped up shows like Aku no Hana and Shingeki no Kyojin were huge disappointments.  So let’s take a look at the lineup and see what we have to look forward to being disappointed by this summer! Title translations are my own efforts and may be laughably inaccurate.

Kimi no Iru Machi (The Town You Live In): There were only fifteen seconds of promo video I could find for this show but that was enough to overwhelm me with bland sweetness.  They used to make a lot more of these sort of plain-vanilla love triangle romances where a boy and a girl are forced to live together under one roof, but at some point they decided that all shows like this needed a gimmick.  These days, if a boy and a girl are in a cohabitation love-triangle, it’s because the girl is a god, or the girl is a robot, or the girl is his little sister (a popular choice). And say what you like about the silliness of these gimmicks, but at least they make the shows distinguishable. Even the art style for this show looks like every single early 2000’s romance. If I watched it, I’d probably end up calling out “Da Capo” during the plot’s climax. It would be an awkward situation.

Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou (The Sun That Does Something To Illusions): The meaning of the Japanese verb “kakeru” is crazy underspecified, and it bothers me.  I could never figure out what the girl did to time, either. Anyway, I’d write this show off as magical girl nonsense except that the promos made it look a little more serious and hardcore action-y than I would expect from your typical anime aimed at 8-year-old girls.  It almost looks like an entry in the genre that Madoka would have been in if Madoka had been in a genre.  I don’t want to miss out when “dark gritty magical girls” becomes a thing, but I also want to minimize my time spent watching non-dark, non-gritty magical girls. It’s a quandary.

Servant x Service: This show has like a dozen different promo videos of a woman in her twenties with glasses and professional clothing jumping rope while her breasts bounce up and down.  Servant x Service, you have my attention.   Apparently this is a comedy set in the civil bureaucracy, but not necessarily about the bureaucracy so much as the zany bureaucrats – kinda like Parks and Recreation, if you’ll forgive me referencing Western TV.  I guess Hokkaido is Japan’s equivalent of Indiana?  To the extent that I was able to pay attention to the dialogue during the promo videos the comedic writing seemed solid.  The animation seemed, uh, pretty low budget (they stretched four frames of animation out into twelve promo videos), but the character designs look nice.  One thing that worries me is that it’s by the same author as Working, which I wasn’t a fan of, but thinking back on it one of the big things that bugged me about Working was the character designs, and that doesn’t seem to be a problem here.

Blood Lad: The promo videos for this kinda remind me of Hataraku Maou-sama – the male lead is a supposed “monster” who actually takes a laid-back attitude towards his monstrousness and just wants to hang out in modern Japan, and the female lead is a human girl with huge breasts. (For some reason that seemed like the main aspect of her character the promo videos were trying to promote.) It’s looking like a light-hearted monster-themed comedy, and that could be good or bad depending on how funny the jokes are.

Monogatari Series Second Season (Story Series Second Season): Shaft is a kickass studio, but they need good source material to adapt. It doesn’t seem like they should, given how unique a spin they put on everything they do, but you can look at what happened with Sasami@Ganbaranai or Dance In The Vampire Bund (lol) and see that all the cute animation tricks in the world can’t save a crap story.  So I’m glad to see them going with a known quantity here by adapting more of the Monogatari novels.  Nisemonogatari was, as the saying goes, too genuinely horny to qualify as satire, but Nekomonogatari was great, so I’m excited for this.

Kin-iro Mosaic (Golden Mosaic): This counts as racism, right? They are exoticizing the hell out of that Other. Or does it fall under the “white people” exception?  Either way, this seems like another one of those cute-girls-doing-cute-things shows, and I doubt the fact that one or two of the girls are from the UK is actually going to change very much in the dynamics.  Those shows can sometimes be worth watching, but they need to be solid on the comedy, and I didn’t really see any evidence of that in the promos.  Just a lot of brushing that exotic blonde hair.  Well, GJ-bu has given me an appreciation for hairbrushing, maybe I’ll give it a shot.

Fantasia Doll: This is the magical girl nonsense I’m hoping Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou doesn’t turn out to be.  The blurb says it’s “science fiction” but it’s clear from the promos that we’re not talking Psycho-Pass or anything. More like just plain Pass.

Uchouten Kazoku (Ecstatic Family): Traditional Japanese monsters, tanuki and tengu, and a somewhat traditionalist art-style.  Man, I never feel like I really “get” this sort of show.  In some sense, all anime is made by Japanese people for Japanese people (except Big O), but modern Japan has a lot more in common with the modern USA than traditional Japan has with the traditional USA. (What would that even be, giant blue oxen and apple trees and stuff? Slavery?) If I grew up immersed in the right sort of culture to enjoy this show, I might, but I didn’t, so I doubt I will.

Love Lab: This season’s “schoolgirl lesbians” show.  Last season’s at least had the decency to include a pink-haired chick. I’m not interested regardless, but for the people who are into this sort of thing, doesn’t it sort of kill the enjoyment if the premise is that they are only getting romantic with each other as part of a long-term strategy culminating in romance with boys? I didn’t think a schoolgirl lesbians anime could even afford to acknowledge the existence of the masculine gender.

Gin no Saji: Silver Spoon (Silver Spoon: Silver Spoon): They showed a decapitated chicken in the promo video.  Well, they didn’t actually show it, they mosaic’d it out, but they made me think about decapitated chickens and in general the practice of raising animals only to kill and eat them.  I pay money to get my meat already sliced up so I don’t have to think about things like this!  I’m sort of in the inverse position as the protagonist, having moved to the big city to get away from the rural lifestyle of my parents, so I think I might end up feeling too much empathy with the protagonist to laugh at him like I’m supposed to. It’s a Noitamina show, but it seems like the sort of Noitamina show that gets put on Noitamina because of its implicit stance on important cultural issues rather than because it’s brilliant art.

Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyou (I Can Use A Dog And Scissors): This season’s scissors fetish show.  I didn’t realize that was a thing, but Crime Edge and Bakemonogatari… wait a sec, there’s a new season of Bakemonogatari airing this season.  So, in fact, Dog Scissors is this season’s other scissors fetish show.  The scissors fetish understudy, in case Bakemonogatari gets distracted by toothbrushes again.  From the promos, the female lead looks like she might be charming.  She’s almost certainly no Senjougahara, but who is?  I’m worried about the male lead though.  Being trapped in a dog’s body seems like a recipe for easy, lazy jokes that fit in the [HUMOR GOES HERE] slot in the anime’s storyboards but don’t actually make me laugh.  We’ll have to see how it goes, but it’s by Gonzo, so let’s not get our hopes up.

Danganronpa Kibou no Gakuen to Zetsubou no Koukousei (Shotgun Argument Academy of Hope and Students of Despair): There’s a lot of hype about the visual novel this is based on all over the internet, which means going by last seasons results the anime adaptation will probably suck. Shows about survival games can be pretty thrilling (Mirai Nikki), and the whole “trial” aspect reminds me of the game of Mafia (or in some cultures Werewolf), which I find fascinating as a petri dish where deception, politics, and analysis can grow. The show’s character designs are unappealing and I can already tell that little black-and-white bear thing is gonna piss me off, but in the end I have no choice but to watch this, or else I’ll never know what the fuss is about.

Tokurei Sochi Dantai Stella Jo-Gakuin Koutou-ka C3-bu (Special Programs Organization Stella Women’s Academy Special Course C3 Club): Girls with guns. I guess it could end up like a cross between Girls and Panzer and Upotte with all the pointlessly weird nonsense stripped out.  And the pointlessly weird nonsense was a lot of what kept those shows from living up to their potential! I’m worried about the “(‘[girls] who look super good in mini-skirts’)” bit in the blurb, though.  You shouldn’t have to point out that the girls look super good in mini-skirts, that should be assumed.  It’s not something you can use as a selling point, it’s something you need to have down cold before you even show up at the table. Explicitly pointing it out like that just makes me think you’re trying to cover for the fact that your girls only look basically acceptable in mini-skirts, or maybe they don’t look super good in jogging clothes or something. It raises a whole host of issues you don’t want raised.

Brothers Conflict: It’s nice that women get godawful pandering incest harem anime too.  Gender equality and all that.

Genshiken Nidaime (Genshiken Second Generation): This reminds me that I never got around to watching the second season of Genshiken.  And now there’s a whole second generation?  Time really gets away from you, huh.

Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaete mo Omaera ga Warui (Why Don’t You Fuckers Love Me): (That was something of a fanciful translation, attempting to maintain the pragmatic spirit of the Japanese if not the exact semantic content. The generally accepted translation in the community is It’s Not My Fault I’m Not Popular.) This is the anime adaptation of the manga which became a big hit on an overseas 2channel-like message board. I tried reading it, but as usual for fan-translations of manga the translation quality was awful.  What little I read of it seemed really appealing though.  It’s like a lonelier Genshiken, or a less suicidal Welcome to the NHK. A sympathetic and lighthearted look at what it means to be a gross otaku no one could ever love in a world ruled by normies. The promo video didn’t display much animation effort, because it was just Not Popular At Her Computer in the middle of the night, but at least that shows they’re taking the right tone. Not Popular Girl getting an anime is great news.

Kitakubu Katsudo Kiroku (Log of the Activities of the Go-Home-Club): The titular “Kitakubu” or “Go-Home-Club” is a Japanese term for students who don’t join any clubs.  It’s the null club, basically.  So instead of a show about a club about nothing, we have a show about a club that is itself nothing.  Will it be any good? Who knows! These sorts of shows you just have to watch, or let someone who writes an anime blog watch for you. Usually they’re boring, but sometimes they’re GJ-bu.

Gatchaman Crowds: Yet another supernatural action anime full of Capitalized Nouns.  The only thing notable about it is that “NOTE” and “MESS” are really dumb names for the mysterious entities, even by the standards of this sort of show.

Free!: More gender equality! The girls can go ahead and enjoy their dripping wet Kyoto Animation moe boys.  I won’t begrudge them that.  I mean it’s not like we were going to get a third season of Haruhi anyway.

Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya: How does this exist.  Just, how does this even exist?  Who looks at Fate/Stay Night, one of the greatest works of modern world literature, and picks out the character of Ilyasviel von Einzbern, and says, we should do a spin-off about her adventures as a magical girl.  Someone explain to me the thinking behind this.  I mean I guess it’s like a parody of the mahou shoujo genre? Or maybe like a retelling of the events of the Holy Grail War from Ilya’s perspective?  I guess if I think of it in those terms it starts to make sense, sort of like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.  Or maybe like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  We’ll see.

Makai Ouji: Devils and Realist (Prince of Hell: Devils and Realist): The premise reminds me of the Sudden Girlfriend Appearance genre, except that the demons the protagonist summons seem to be dudes.  I’m getting a sneaking suspicion we might be looking at yet more gender equality. But I am interested in seeing how Hell Politics plays out in anime form, and I do get some cheap kicks out of watching an atheist Choose Logic even when blatantly supernatural things are going on right in front of him (Umineko was great for this). Hmm, at the end of that promo video those dudes are going in for a kiss.  Hmmm.  Hmmmm.

The World God Only Knows Season 3: More TWGOK!  I dunno, season 2 didn’t thrill me as much as the first season did.  Regression towards the mean and all that. Season two was too much caught up in the supernatural aspects of the show and didn’t spend enough time on the down-to-earth everyday capturing of girls’ hearts. From what I’ve heard, Season 3 is going to be covering something called the “Goddesses Arc”.  That doesn’t sound very down-to-earth to me.  Oh dear.

Hyperdimension Neptune: Has there ever been a good RPG anime adaptation?  I guess a lot of people liked the Persona 4 anime.  Anyway, this looks pretty crappy.  Launching your anime about a game parodying the console gaming industry doesn’t make sense when it’s like, three months before the next generation of consoles are released.  Your jokes are going to be instantly out of date. And without timely humor about how much you want to XBone the moe personification of the PS4, Hyperdimension Neptune doesn’t seem to have much to offer.  OK, fanservice outfits with the tits hanging out,  and twin girls named Ram and Rom, that’s something, but I’m pretty confident this is going to turn out to be trash.

Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi (Sunday Without God): I’m pretty sure I’ve heard this joke before.  They’re actually all dead, right, and they’re in like Hell or Purgatory or something.  And that’s why they can’t die, they can never leave, or at least not until they’ve repented their sins or given up their attachment to worldly things or whatever.  Spoiler warning.  I dunno, it could be good.  Maybe there’s something deeper to it.  Or maybe it’ll be a jumble of meaningless Christian imagery combined with pro-death propaganda. They could take it a lot of different ways.

So all things considered, I think this season actually might look better than Spring did.  I’m really excited for Servant x Service, Monogatari Series Two, and Unpopular Girl. TWGOK 3 should be at the very least watchable, too.  And then I have Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou, Blood Lad, Kin-iro Mosaic, Dog Scissors, Danganronpa, C3-bu, Kitakubu Katsudo Kiroku ok I just realized that this show’s title has an unfortunate abbreviation, Prism Ilya, and Makai Ouji, any of which could turn out good. So that’s thirteen shows.  I’m guessing I’ll end up picking up five or six, and maybe even blog one or two if we’re lucky.

The first of these shows should be airing soon.  I’ll spend the next couple weeks watching these shows, then put up a threshing post evaluating them.  Watch for it.

2 responses to “Summer Anime Season 2013 – The Summer of Boys

  1. Andmeuths June 30, 2013 at 7:19 am

    The “Goddesses Arc” is considered one of the best, and most epic arcs of TGWOK, because it put’s Keima in an almost impossible position, and in the manga, kept it’s readers on their toes all the way to the end. However, it is solidly in the Urban Fantasy territory.

  2. sage July 1, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    “Someone explain to me the thinking behind this.”

    Ilya is cute and people will buy the dvds?

    Gatchaman is alleged to be a remake of the classic proto-sentai but from watching the trailer I’m not exactly HOW except in name only.

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