Welcome to the first weekly coverage of this Summer season. After went through 30 plus shows in the first week (there’s some new additions to the First Impression post. Go check them out), less than half of them make the cut at this stage. As of now, 16 shows remain, basically from Happy Sugar Life downward in the rank, plus 2 ongoing shows from last season. I’ll cut down the list once we go through 3 episodes of everything, and once more time when we reach the halfway point. Another change to this weekly format is that I don’t see the point of ranking them week to week anymore. Instead, I’ll group them by some random category. It’d be more fun that way. For reference, this period last season I also had 16 shows before cut down to 10, and in Winter season I also had 16 shows before settled with 12. That means, 16 is my lucky number all the way.
With all that said, let’s get down to business, with styles:
How are my blondies doing?
Satsuriku no Tenshi (ep02-03)
Not great, character-wise. First we have Rachel Gardner, who after the first episode of scare and confusion becomes a blank in her emotion response. The central relationship of Rachel and Zack so far, is… weird. It’s inconsistent across the board, as he acts as a bloodthirsty serial killer in episode 1 then transform into a loud sidekick in next episodes. Some plot is pretty dumb as well, like all the business with the light (Rachel holds a flashlight in her hand at the time). What it succeeds, however, is the atmospheric central mystery and the appeal of that settings alone. The production also elevates the material, with memorable characters (like that kid with a pumpkin head), and a dark but striking arts. Based on the OP there isn’t a lot of cast, makes me wonder how the show will go once Rachel and Zack go through those weekly villain. I still find the concept of each-villain-in-each-floor interesting so I’ll be down to watch more of it.
Asobi Asobase (ep02)
2 episodes in, I’m still sold on what this show is selling: a mixture of slice of life cute girls doing cute thing and quirky “crazy faces” humor. Not our blonde Olivia, but Hanako(whom I consider the dumber, more eccentric Hina in 3-gatsu no Lion) does a lot of lifting this week, with her antics that basically drag her groupmates into new hijinks. The girls chemistry are solid all around, especially I like the triangle diagram on how each of them can handle and be handled by one another. Thus, the show is at its weakest when the girls being cute, it just loses its edge. I know they play up all these mean-spirits for humor more than having anything substantial about the characters, but I’m all in for the dash of meanie because this series is so great of pulling these.
Banana Fish (ep02-03)
Ash, on the other hand, goes through many hardships for the last 2 episodes, as his best buddy Skip got shot, he is framed for murder Marvin and all sorts of abuse in the prison cells. The pacing for Banana Fish has gone to a breaknecking speed so that events just don’t have time to sink in. Take Skip’s death, for example, it was so quick that Ash literally doesn’t have time to reflect. Another issue with the show so far is the plot’s contrivance. We have Max who “happens” to be in the same prison cell, who “happens” to have a connection that knows Eiji and the police force, who “happens” to know about Banana Fish and who “happens” to be his brother’s best buddy. I know it’s a lot of material the show need to get across for the real meat, but I’d appreciate if the show slows down a bit, as of now I feel a clear passage of time. The more edgy elements, namely the homosexual and child porno stuffs don’t bother me as much, as those are integral to the theme of the story. For now, I still feel the updated settings a bit off, but hopefully the anime knows what they’re doing here. Eiji has taken more active role as the end of the third episode, and he needs to prove himself more as the other lead, given so far his personality doesn’t interest me much.
Okay, Yuu’s only relevance in episode 2 since she’s a side-character, but a blondie eating a hotdog in a stick is always a plus for me. Hanebado, aside from its solid production, is a character drama show at heart and so far it does a good job at developing their main characters. Both these two episodes address the girls’ issues, building these up and find a good way to resolve those. The best trick Hanebado does so far is to tell these in the point of view of their friends. By doing that it adds another level of complexity and make all those relationships grounded and relatable. Elena’s observant is possibly the best element of episode 3. Transforming from just a supportive no-face girl into a much more complex role, we see a whole whirlwind of her own feeling regarding her best friend, many contradicting emotions: from caring about her, wanted her friend to rely on her (in a very tasteful way using the dialogue from the movie she watched), to jealousy that her friend can devote herself into something she love. Ultimately, she’s the best friend if there’s ever one, simply because despite all the contradicting feelings, she comes out for all the better. Both Ayano and Nagisa are fleshed out and now we have a reason to get behind those characters.
Not as blonde, but these girls are just as crazy.
Happy Sugar Life (ep02)
Pink-haired Saitou is an embodiment of a yandere done right. She’s scary for sure, the way that she regards her love so purely that she’d go at length to protect that love at all cost. As for the story so far, well, it gets ham-fisted real fast. You can make a case that her type attracts the scummiest of people, from abusive employer to rapist teacher and a sick loli bastard waiting on the line. The factor to make this kind of story works is that the conflicts must come from the consequences of Saitou’s actions, not from the external force. A brother looking for his missing sister is a step in the right direction, a horrible teacher who just wants a taste of her isn’t. Also, if the show can’t develop the relationship between Saitou and Ship any further, then we’d have a hard time rooting for any of her action. This show is closed to my chopping board here, hopefully the next season can pull my interest back to all this.
Chio-chan no Tsuugakuro (ep02-03)
Despite the fact that ginger Chio regards herself as below-average, these episodes just showcase that it might not be the case. I consider the latter two episodes even funnier than the premiere. As of now, Chio-chan splits its segments neatly in two halves, the first deals with Chio encounters the absurd events on her way to school, and the latter details her relationship with her friends. One highlights the adventure spirits of this title, the other provides more heart and depth. I don’t mind at all with this formula, since it’s done right so far, but I figure Chio-chan will eventually mix things up a bit in future episodes. The key that ties both segment together, is Chio herself. So far, she’s super relatable character, both due to her commitment to do her best not to stand out, but always find herself standing out in more ways than one, and due to her social anxiety that makes her both charming and real. The best weapon is her monologue, helped by her wild imagination (I say games help her much in that department), and it’s fun to see her stream of thought runs in free form and how she eventually makes her head-stretching decision. Being said that, the bit that I have mixed feeling about is Chio-chan’s OP, which play up the fan-service I normally avoid: jiggling boobs for one, long tongue for another, even nudist!!? To no surprise then, the latter half of the third episode has me concerned profoundly. It features the groping as playing for laugh, and I feel more uneasy than amusing. I think the show’s testing me if I can come to term with this myself, given I think these will become the show’s DNA from this point onward.
Steins;Gate 0 (ep13-14)
These two episodes revolve around redhead Kagari, and I remain mixed on her involvement to the story as a whole.The show frames her love for her Tutturu Mama as affectionate, but I can only see this as borderline obsessive. Her character isn’t that great to begin with, she’s passive and her actions are inconsistent. Partly because she’s being brainwashed as far back as she was a kid. Speaking of that, it becomes clearer to me that Dr Leskinen is involved to all this, especially this whole Kagari affair. But why does she have Kurisu’s appearance? Even if it has some deeper meaning later on, I can’t help but think that her presence is just a filler. She doesn’t need to be in this story. At all. Second, the show is pretty awkward when it handles action scenes, or any sequences that involve guns and knives. But finally (FINALLY), the main story kicks back into gear now that Maho is directly involved to create a time machine. This whole season has heaps of building up already, now, I say, is when they pull the curtain up for a thrilling climax.
Hi Score Girl (ep02)
I’ll be frank, the production remains really amateurish. The full CGI doesn’t help the characters’ movement (it hurts that there’s little CG games this week) and the facial expressions in particular suffer. Being said that, Hi Score Girl nails it as a personal story. There’s a certain fondness and love for that particular era, for all the games Haruo and Ono play, for all the corners and street where they travel along together. As if they’re stories pulled directly from someone’s memory. Ono still doesn’t utter a word, the fact that I consider as her quirk and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Their bond starts to become stronger and it’s fun to just watch them being together doing the things they love. At that, I think I’ll stick with this show for a while longer.
Shichisei no Subaru (ep02-03)
Fianally, we have a grey hair girl who literally dies but still somehow survives in game form. It has Anohana’s influence down its bone as the characters are basically a rip from that anime, personality-wise. We have the same kind of lead, who was a team leader now turn social awkward kid, we have that love-interest girl who always lose to that dead girl and goddamnit, even the hair color is the same. The show needs to do a lot more to differentiate it from Anohana, given its gameplay aspect… wasn’t quite good. I’m no expert in games, but even me can see the implausible of many rule-breaking mechanics: time-manipulation? You need to know the rules well before you can break those rules, writer. But saying all that, I’m still invested into the story as a whole, and at least I’m curious to see how the gang formed again and what they will do with it.
Handsome boys who *think* they know everything
Kyoto Teramachi Sanjou no Holmes (ep02)
I’m a bit worried about Kyoto Holmes. In this second episode, all these antique appraisal (which I considered as the show’s best) suddenly get shut off for more mundane case, and the said case is low-key and uninspiring. I’m all for low-key mystery (I really enjoyed Hyouka), but in this case isn’t well-crafted at all. All the players just listen to Kiyotaka explains, talk about their motivations and then walk home like nothing’s ever happened. I’m still mildly interested in Kiyotaka and Aoi’s chemistry, which a mixed of Holmes and Watson with romance on top, but the show needs to do more to give me a reason to come back to.
Phantom in the Twilight (ep02)
In which handsome boy turns out to be… Dracula. Look, if you’re an original show, how about going for something fresher? Twilight is in the bubble line here, because if I wanna watch a supernatural thriller anime for this season I’d go to the more polished production Tenrou instead. I still enjoy the main heroine Ton, although I’m not keen on this set of superhuman boys. The generic episodic plot seems to be Ton finds herself in trouble and these boys go their ways to save her. All the pieces are setting up now so we’ll know what the main overarching plot is going to be like, but for now that supernatural London world doesn’t attract my interest much
Tenrou: Sirius the Jaeger (ep02)
Tenoru has one of the best production value in this Summer season so far, but in terms of story and characters it still doesn’t convince me much. It has many plot contrivances in this episode, like the way Yuliy waking up in the care of a man who “happens” to be a doctor who “happens” to do extensive research on artificial heart, which in turns attract the Vampire crowd. The characters, likewise, don’t raise above what their profiles are, so it’s hard to invest for them. Yuliy has a nice interaction with the doctor’s daughter, but then again it’s a plot thread that we’ve seen several times before. Also, the cops are really annoying as they are just too behind all this I don’t know why the show uses them at all. It’s still a good production, mind you, the art and the animation are all excellent, but hopefully the show will develop the cast a bit more so that we can have someone to invest to.
Grand Blue (ep02)
In which hot boys spend their time decorating a room. Oh yeah! Truth be told, I found the whole hijinks about posters and hentai 50% amusing, 50% stupid but it’s a brand of humor this show goes in. The best bit for me is when Chisa shows up to find her faces all over the posters. That would creep everyone out. I’m also glad that when it comes to the diving aspect, they treat it seriously. This is a show that knows when it needs to be serious, and when it can get loose and troll everyone. It’s not exactly my type of humor but hey, I will take any good comedy anime out there.
Anime is battlefield
Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight (ep02)
This show climbs up to be my favorite show of this season. It has all these elements that personally are my cup of tea: loads of layers of symbolism, a surrealism sense and a stage duel set piece that is even more impressive than an actual action show. The way the show heavily uses symmetric images and put Karen right there in the middle, for example, suggest that she’s the one in the central (ground zero), the place where the lead role usually occupy, and signifies that she’s the one who brings the cast altogether. I also like the theme of individualism in the focus of unity. Like the way the anime shows their costumes are mass-produced or the use of mannequin. To become a star, they need to stand out from the rest. And the girl Junna really has a chance to develop throughout this two episodes. We have a total of 9 girls in this series but judge from the way this show treats Junna, I have a good faith that they will develop thoroughly. In addition, the stage duel is simply stunning. It’s gorgeous to look at and it has so much personality on its own.
Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki (ep02)
Well, this episode introduces some new characters and immediately kills them off in the end, although I don’t really mind much. Plot-wise, it doesn’t feel as fresh as the first episode, but as a historical thriller it sets out to be a wild ride. First, we all know the stake Kuchii and the Princess will have to face. They have to survive for at least 7 days and boy, it’s a tall order to achieve. Second, Kuchii proves to be capable of doing just that and I quite like the relationship between him and the Princess. She has a manipulative side and it’s great to see her uses it. Aesthetically it looks strong enough, not necessary in the best way (I understand the complaint regarding the “dirty” filter), but it stands apart from other shows. Anyone loves a story about underdog so in that regards the anime still has its promises. Just don’t make him like Gut who can kill a team of hundreds all by his own. That would kill the enjoyment fairly quickly.
Hataraku Saibou (ep02-03)
These two episodes are another maniacally depiction of our cells fighting against all kind of virus. It’s certainly informative and fun to watch those. But at times I feel like it’s more about educational programme more than an anime show. The reason is that each week the show introduces new cells and displays the way they function. Not a bad way by all means (and Platelets are way too CUTE) but it has little to zero character development. I would love to see more interaction between our lost cow Red Blood cell with that deadpan White Blood cell. It feels like a Saturday cartoon kid show right now, let’s see if they can raise it above that.
My Hero Academia 3 (ep52-53)
MHA introduces a brand new arc and I must say, they do it effortlessly. It’s always a strength of MHA, the ability to grab your attention from the very beginning of the arc. We have Midoriya learning new skills, we have another set of teen heroes doing very novice stuffs: attending test for P license. I especially enjoy how it makes total sense that UA academy would be the first target to clear out, consider how publicy they are. This will be another good test for the A-1 class to prove themselves. Although only 100 out of 1200 something students would be able to pass? Boy, that’s harsh.
Planet With (ep02)
As with this episode ends, I start to see the appeal of Planet With. Here’s the show that introduces familiar pieces, but the way they assemble these pieces together is pretty strange that you can never guess what will happen next. I mean, when you see a huge object in the form of Piggie floating around the sky, how would you expect the way to deal with it? Everything happens now scream clearly that there’s something beneath it all, that you can’t take it for granted. Even with their recurring jokes like the meat-craze can be relevant later on, who knows? The weak aspect of it is that I still don’t have a reason to care for those characters. They’re quite bland right now and the CG fights are off at some places. It’s weird and hopefully the next events can justify its weirdness.