Summer 2013 Anime Season Digest – Half Point
The Summer 2013 anime season is alive and kicking! This time around we have a few old series which are trying to make a comeback, one original anime and a couple of not so original ones. As most of these anime approach their half point it’s time yet again to separate the good anime from the time-wasters.
Rozen Maiden 2013
Jun finishes creating Shinku and her spirit is attracted to her new body. She congratulates Jun on a job well done, but is certain that her time in adult Jun’s world will not be of use to her in her fight against Kirakishou. Meanwhile Jun starts actively meeting his coworker Saito outside of working hours. However Jun is still unsatisfied with his life and believes he is destined for failure, as has always been the case. Shinku will soon return to kid Jun’s world, leaving him behind. And Saito? She is probably just toying around with him. Hunted by fears of what awaits him Jun begin creating a new doll. One that will truly be his own creation and pride.
Rozen Maiden 2013 is, by a small margin, the best anime to air this season for me. After throwing a fit in the first episode it immediately stabilized and proved that a good concept and a non-compromising storytelling approach can make all the difference in the world (you can read my first impression on Rozen Maiden 2013 here). When viewed alongside other series from this season Rozen Maiden 2013 can be considered on the slow side. No world-defining event has yet to happen, and the entire plot still revolves around one person – Sakurada Jun. And yet Rozen Maiden does such a great job at telling Jun’s story. The decision to focus on adult Jun’s hurdles as a grownup was a wise one and reminded me how long it’s been since I last saw a true hikikomori character in an anime. It is a sobering experience to see Jun making strides as an adult and yet forever feeling held back by his hikikomori tendencies. Aside from Jun’s daily life the Alice Game is alive and kicking. Even though it isn’t yet in the center of the show the little dots that make out the Alice Game are constantly aligning themselves in the background. Suigintou is now an acting player (sort of), we got a glimpse at kid Jun’s situation and adult Jun is building a new doll (which will probably end up being none other than Kirakishou herself). You could claim Rozen Maiden 2013 is offering too little content per episode, but true art is not something that should be fed to us with a silver spoon and hastening this series might break its fine-tuned internal logic.
Status: Rozen Maiden 2013 won me over with its dark world and slowly yet cunningly evolving plot. Let’s hope it maintains this vibe in the latter, more action oriented, episodes.
Tamayura: More Aggressive
Sawatari Fuu creates a photography club in her school and soon enough attracts another photography affectionado – Mitani Kanae. The two try all sorts of activities in order to publicize their club and although they remain the only members they have fun doing their own thing. Later Fuu goes traveling alongside her friends and discovers new information about her diseased father’s past.
In no way can I explain why Tamayura: More Aggressive is as good as it is. For starters – it’s an Iyashikei series, which people either fall in love with on first sight or never watch. And then there is the fairly plain, almost too plain plot. But Tamayura: More Aggressive is nonetheless an excellent series, because it is Iyashikei done right. Every episode is heartwarming and touching as you would expect. The slow pace forces you to forget all your daily troubles and commit yourself to 24 minutes of joy therapy. The characters are as lovable as I remembered (even Norie is less annoying than in the last season!). Moreover the More Aggressive subtitle is a justifiable one – Fuu is definitely advancing her agenda more aggressively this time around and as a result she accomplishes in two or three episodes something that would take another Iyashikei show a season or more to accomplish.
Verdict: With a blissfully slow pace, gorgeous scenery and a constant feeling of achievement you really can’t go wrong if you chose to watch Tamayura: More Aggressive. Still not sure whether you should watch this series or not? Read more about Tamayura here.
Sunday Without God
In a world where humans can no longer die on their own semi-human beings called gravekeepers are needed to give the dead a proper burial and send their souls to the afterlife. Ai Astin, an orphaned 12 years old girl living in a small mountain village, is one such gravekeeper. One day a strange man called Hampnie Hambart appears in the village and slays the entire population except for Ai. Shocked by this tragic event Ai confronts Hampnie and discovers two amazing facts. The first – Hampnie is in fact her father. The second – the village people have been keeping a terrible secret from her. Shortly after leaving her village Ai joins up with a middle aged man named Yuri and a gravekeeper nicknamed Scar. Together they set out on an uncertain journey to save their dying world.
Sunday without God offers an interesting mix of taboo-breaking context and wise storytelling. Death is a constant theme in this show, but so are miracles. The title Sunday without God is somewhat misleading since god is very proactive in Ai’s world. The gist of it is that god evidently decided to make human wishes come true if they are strong enough, and so crazy things began to happen. For example, people didn’t want to die, so now they can’t. I’m interested to see what other twisted (for good or bad) wishes have been accepted and how they changed Ai’s world. Speaking of Ai, it is refreshing to see a child that acts and thinks like a child. Like a typical child Ai is eager to try new things and always ask strange questions that the adults wouldn’t have bothered asking and might struggle to answer. The writing and dialog are, for the most part, also pretty good. If I had to define Sunday without God I’d say its similar to Kino no Tabi in tone, but has a continuous story and a much bigger budget to spend. My only real gripe as of now are the female character designs. They are a bit too anorexic for my taste.
Status: Can’t wait to see more. I have a feeling Sunday without God still has some surprises for us down the road.
Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan was definitely a game changer during its initial season. It was entertaining and refreshing. The second season however brought with it some revelations that, for the most part, damaged the series and brought it down a few notches. It all started around episode 13 when the battle against the titans waned down and the series started to heavily focused on the human characters. But as it turns out none of the humans in Attack on Titan is terribly interesting. When you have one-pattern characters like Eren and Mikasa on one end and lunatic unrealistic people like the leaders of the Scouting Legion on the other you realise rooting for the humans isn’t going to be as easy as you thought. Add to this some really bad music decisions (most of the background music, including the opening song, sound like garbled noise. They should fire those responsible for that mess), and you have a less impressive show. That is not to say that Attack on Titan is unwatchable. I still like the idea, the animation and some of the characters. But the series really needs to step things up again, because showing Eren running away from a powerful woman-titan for three full episodes just ain’t gonna cut it.
Status: Still watching, but my enthusiasm level has dwindled considerably.
Futari wa Milky Holmes
Alice and Kazumi are two young aspiring detectives. Inspired by the legendary Milky Holmes they decide to form their own little thieves-capturing team. They call themselves “The Feathers” and start patrolling the streets. Soon enough they find themselves battling it out against a new group of thieves who call themselves the Colored Phantoms. Milky Holmes are also out to capture the members of this new group and The Feathers will have to be quick and smart if they intend to get the upper hand and make a name for themselves. Of course, in recognizable Milky Holmes fashion the leader of the Colored Phantoms is none other than Alice’s big brother.
I almost forgot to write a review for Futari wa Milky Holmes. This series certainly isn’t bad, but it is quite forgettable. At 12 minutes per episode there isn’t a lot to write about either. Futari wa Milky Holmes takes a more serious approach to the cat and mouse game between the great detectives and phantom thieves. But Alice and Kazumi are a bit underpowered. Unlike Milky Holmes they don’t have almighty Toys to back them up and so instead must rely on their brainstorming skills. Unfortunately that means that when they actually confronts a thieve they win or lose based purely on luck. They have one powerful attack made possible by combining both their powers but realistically thinking this one-pattern attack won’t get them very far (and won’t be enough to keep us watching either). By episode 5 it looks like the series is already in need of an intense plot-shake or two.
Status: Still watching for now. As much as I like the serious approach of Futari wa Milky Holmes it needs to improve its formula a bit if it wants to stay relevant for long.
Congratulation to Feminists the world over, you have found your holy grail – Genshiken Nidaime is the singlemost male-objectifying anime in existence. There are currently three male characters in Genshiken Nidaime: the passive powerless Madarame, the cooky (disgustingly degraded) Kuchiki and the club’s pet Hato. The women club members spend their time embarrasing Madarame, ignoring Kuchiki and playing around with Hato. It is simply the lowest way one can portrey men in a show. It really is. Madarame and Ugiue were my favorite characters in the original Genshiken. Now Madarame is used mostly for cheap sexual jokes and Ugiue is reduced to a feminine nice girl who’s only real job is care for the new girls.
Status: Still watching for now. With little to no portrayal of genuine otaku life Genshiken Nidaime is in a bind. If it continues to be so offensive towards men, and so mild towards otaku fandom I will consider dropping it in the near future. There are dark sides to fujoushi life and Genshiken should consider exploring them if it ever wants to be even mildly grounded in reality again.
When she was little Oomiya Shinobu bravely decided to go on a trip to Britain for a short homestay. Once there she fell in love with the country and became a friend of a local girl named Alice. Several years later Shinobu is now 15 years old. A new year in school is about to begin, but this year is going to be a little different. Alice, who became a Japanophile after meeting Shinobu, has decided to study in Japan and will be attending Shinobu’s school. Soon she and her friend Karen arrive from Britian. They join up with Shinobu and her friends Youko and Aya, and spend their days mostly making fun of each other and discussing the gap between the Japanese mentality and the European one.
Kiniro Mosaic has an interesting premise. Take some foreign girls, put them in a Japanese setting and make a series about the cultural difference between the East and the West. Unfortunaly Kiniro Mosaic is too soft and too uninspiring to acheive such a feat. The show was obiously based on a yonkoma manga. Some such manga turn out great in anime form (like Lucky Star or Azumanga Daioh). Sadly Kiniro Mosaic did not transfer well at all. The series boasts a harmless, borderline boring, humor that never did tickle my funny bone. More seriously though, the show is a bit offensive when it comes to the use of English. Alice and Karen are supposed to be native English speakers, but they are dubbed by Japanese with very poor English. With so many American and Canadian teachers living in Japan it would have taken reletively little effort to find a real native English speaker for those characters but I guess the production studio didn’t really care for consistency in that matter. On the other hand we have Shinobu, who really likes Britain and English but seems to be either really stupid or completely incompetant at speaking. The only English word she knows is “Hello” and she is having trouble even saying that. I’m guessing Shinobu’s poor English is supposed to be some kind of gag, but it failed to amuse me, to say the least.
Status: Dropped after 3 episodes. Kiniro Mosaic is a harmless little show that fails to be funny or intellectually pleasing in any way. To be frank it could fair pretty well if its main audience was little girls. Unfortunately as a show that is supposed to be targeting the seinen audience it is, as the British would say, complete rubbish.
Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya
I have to admit I thought it was kind of funny that Rin had a playable magical girl version in Fate/Tora Seihai for the PSP. So when the Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya anime started I thought I’d give it a try. How bad can it be, right? Well, it turns out it is bad. Really really bad. The drawing style is ugly, animation is obscenely scarce, the humor is terrible and the plot is so simple you won’t care. And herein lies the problem – Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya is supposed to be a part of the Fate franchise, which many people hold dear as a highly intellectual property with a superb story and excellent execution. Those people will try to watch Prism Illya and will actually be offended. Others, who have never watched any Fate media, might watch an episode or two of this disgrace and be mislead to believe that this series is a glimpse at what Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night have to offer. I shudder at such thoughts. Just to be clear here though, Prism Illya is a poor excuse for a Mahou Shoujo anime regardless of its relationship to the Fate franchise.
Status: Dropped after a scarring single episode. Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya is an abomination. Some fanart should stay as fanart (or doujinshi for that matter) and never cross over to the small screen. The Prism Illya anime should have never existed, and yet will live to haunt Fate fans for months (specifically until Fate/Heaven’s Feel arrives next year).