As students head back to school, it’s time for our summer anime review! We have plenty of great (and not so great) anime to review, and these review posts will be featuring the most diverse set of voices from the Beneath the Tangles staff to date, so look forward to them.
My Love Story!!
Japesland – 8/10
I’ve written on Ore Monogatari numerous times as it has aired, which says something about my opinion of the series. If you’ve read those articles, then you know that I praise what it’s done to break the shoujo mold, while still holding to some of the tropes that make it what it is (utilizing without subverting, in contrast to shows like Now and Then, Here and There or Madoka Magica, which are entirely subversive). Unlike your traditional shoujo, conflicts created by teenage misunderstandings are actually resolved, and the male lead is neither a slender hunk nor egotistical. It’s a wholesome break from the mold that I appreciate for that reason, but it is by no means perfect. As much as I personally enjoyed it, I have to acknowledge the common complaints that even arose from many of our staff here at Beneath the Tangles, particularly revolving around the lack of satisfying conflict and resolutions often falling back on the male lead being a ridiculously nice guy. Regardless, I still have to praise the show for focusing on characters with moral compasses stronger than perhaps any I’ve seen before in the genre. I can’t recommend this show enough for anyone looking for a romance with less anime angst.
Annalyn – 4/10
Is it too much to ask for an anime about healthy sibling relationships? I mean, really? In Danchigai, high school student Haruki lives with his five sisters and no parents. No incest is actually going on, but younger sister Yayoi blushes and hits like a tsundere with a major crush. Big Sis Mutsuki asks him to practice kissing with her, so she can play her role well in a play (he refuses, thankfully). And the 8-year-old twins joke about liking him as more than a brother, just to ruffle him. There are a few sweet, enjoyable parts—like when the twins question whether they’re related to the rest of the family. Unfortunately, most of these episodes rely on tropes and incest jokes for humor. If they were full-length, I wouldn’t have gotten through the first episode. Since they were only three and a half minutes long, I stuck around for the season, but I’m relieved it’s over.
Shokugeki no Souma
Kaze – 7/10
Souma continues its trend of being a very solid series that does not try to be anything special but excels at the basics. While I feel this second half was drawn out more than necessary, it was not bad by any means. The fanservice which plagued early episodes was toned down (though not always), leading to a series that could focus majorly on the food, cooking, and small but appreciable character development (especially in Megumi’s case). It’s unfortunate that the pacing in the latter half resulted in what is more of a build up to an inevitable 2nd season, making it lose some of the charm of a more climactic finale. That said, it still continued to do most everything right, making it quite an enjoyable watch, and I look forward to any future seasons, where it’s sure to get even more exciting (since I read the manga and all).
Castle Town Dandelion
Joukamachi no Dandelion
stardf29 – 8/10
I considered giving this show a 9/10, because this show is one of my favorites this season (among a lot of amazing shows), but from a perspective of reviewing and recommending this show, I have decided on a still-really-good 8/10. There’s a lot that this show does right; while the premise does seem to lend itself to a gag comedy of family hijinks, the show also approaches its unique premise with a more serious look at what it means to be part of a royal family, and balances out the family hijinks with moments of genuine familial love. The beginning might be a bit rough, but once all the character are established, the show actually starts to develop them, and the plot does move toward a definitive conclusion, with plenty of character growth to go with it. Add on one of the sweetest romances this side of Ore Monogatari (seriously), and you have a show that is cute, fun, and even quite meaningful at times. Definitely give this show a try if you have not yet already!
Zeroe4 – 10/10
World Trigger is a fantastic anime based on a currently running Shōnen Jump manga, about some members of an organization called Border that protects a city from inter-dimensional alien races known as Neighbors. They fight using Triggers, which are Neighbor technology. The series starts when one of the members of this organization ends up meeting and befriending a human, who is also a Neighbor. The series starts a little slow, but quickly picks up. The writing is amazing and the story is a beautiful blend of simplicity and well established plot. Meant as a kids show, this anime is wonderful and I highly recommend it. This is my favorite anime from this year, and I can’t wait for next season.
Gakkou Gurashi falls into the category of show that I consider interesting in concept with little else as a draw. Without spoiling things too much, Gakkou Gurashi succeeds the most when it is subverting expectations (see my Ore Monogatari review above). In fact, the episode that does this best is probably the first, which makes me wonder if it would have made a better OVA. In fact, having still given it a 5/10 (absolute “average” score), I clearly believe its strengths did not outweigh its shortcomings for, at the very least, a single, “as-airing” watch. I doubt it will stand the test of time, but while the characters are not the best, ample time was spent with them to make you feel something for them (thank you small cast; no thank you, Charlotte!). If the series hasn’t been spoiled for you already, I recommend checking out the first episode. After that, you’ll know what I mean by subversion. That alone floats the entire series, regardless of its mediocrity, to the status of at least worth mentioning.
Medieval Otaku – 8/10
For a yakuza anime, Gangsta immerses one surprisingly well into the city of Ergastulum (which happens to be Latin for a slaves’ dungeon), which reminds one of a traditional Italian city with its tiled roofs, narrow streets, and tall hills. Despite the main characters’ vices and unsavory ways of making a living, one relates to them quite easily and cares about their struggles. (Or, does that just say something about your humble blogger?) The animation is beautifully done. The show’s major flaw comes in its poorly executed and unrealistic action sequences. Not one fight strikes me as memorable. If they had improved on this element, I might have rated it higher. It also lacks a palatable opening song–both for the lyrics and its images, but the ending song’s great. At any rate, its ambiance, characters, and solid plot earn it four stars from me; though, many might want to avoid this show for its gore, sadistic villains, use of torture, and sexual situations. Basically, if you would not watch Black Lagoon, don’t watch this.
Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers
Rokka no Yuusha
Samuru – 5/10
I’m a big RPG fan, so this anime looked similar but my expectations were let down. To me, Rokka no Yuusha seemed like a great adventure with interesting characters but in the end it doesn’t use it’s story as much as it should. The first few episodes you get to know the main characters but then most of the season is them just discussing how to leave a certain place and it’s boring fast. I wanted to get to know them more, or at least see them use more of their power to fight the enemy but that is hardly shown. The animation does look very nice though, and the enemies are in 3D while the battles have lots of details even though they are often short.
R86 – 8/10
Imagine a world in which genetic experiments have gone just about as wrong as they possibly can. Scientists have created life, perhaps with the intent of making something like “designer bacteria”. However, the results of their experiments have raged out of control, producing huge “Aragami” — vicious, heavily armored beasts — who do not especially appreciate having been created. Though much of humanity has been destroyed, a few elite fighters remain alongside the original scientists. These “God Eaters,” who are compatible down to the very molecular level with their gigantic anti-Aragami weapons, might be the only hope of what humanity remains. I am being very bold in assigning this show an 8/10 on MAL, where as you may know, I am a tough grader. Perhaps it’s a combination of the hopeless situation that humanity finds itself in due to science having run amuck against the scientists’ wishes, with an unusual art style that seems to mimic CG but is hard to pin down, with a mix of enthusiastic new voice actors and old hands at the business. (Utsugi Lenka is voiced by new talent Kijima Ryuuichi, while Amamiya Lindow is voiced by veteran Hirata Hiroaki, whose long resume includes Saiyuuki’s Sha Gojo and One Piece’s Sanji.) Either way, this show has captured my interest, at least for now. Do be warned, however, that there is quite a bit of bloody violence.
Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There!
Gate: Jietai Kanochi nite Tatakaeri
Gate is definitely an odd anime. In modern day Tokyo, a magical gate opens up in the middle of Ginza and an army of foot soldiers and chariots come into Japan and begins killing people in the streets. They are quickly wiped out as the Japanese Self Defence Force is mobilized to stop them. The JSDF then secures this gate to a new world. The story mainly follows one particular JSDF member, who is a diehard otaku, but is commemorated as a hero. Once again, this show is odd. I really enjoy it though. It takes a very unlikely story concept and tries to makes sense of it and does a fantastic job. There is fan service, and parts of it feel like JSDF propaganda, but nevertheless it is enjoyable.
Look forward to tomorrow’s continuation of our summer 2015 review!