Summer Anime 2016 Review (Part 2/3)

departing

Berserk
Berserk

Medieval Otaku – 7/10

Berserk stands as one of the most famous manga ever made, and it received a brilliant anime adaptation in 1997.  One can see that they tried to bring the artistic craftsmanship of the series’ creator to life on screen.  The Berserk of 2016, however, which covers events after the Golden Age Arc, features too much bad CG at the beginning, and the early episodes are barely watchable.  Nevertheless, the quality starts to improve around episode seven, and we are treated to some awesome battles and great characters–especially the hero.  The better animation and more focused plot redeems the series from its poor start.

The new Berserk is darker than the old one, and it includes far more blood, guts, and sex.  As one who could not even read through volume one of the manga, I thought that this Berserk would prove unwatchable.  Though I did either avert my eyes at times or skip certain scenes, the animators toned the graphic images down enough for me to watch.  Also, the show features a ton of bad religion, with Guts believing more in the existence of the devil than in God, characters denying the efficacy of prayer, and the world of Berserk‘s religion producing mindless and helpless drones.  The false religion of this show is given the trappings of the Catholic Church and the Spanish Inquisition but none of their essence.  Overall, this was an entertaining show, but people should be careful lest the sham religion of the show lead them from the True Faith.

ace-attorney

Gyakuten Saiban: Sono Shinjitsu, Igi Ari!
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Cutsceneaddict – 4.2/10 

I could copy/paste my review from the previous season here, but because I’m lazy… TAKE THAT! …here’s a link. My thoughts still stand.

“HOLD IT!” You shout, noticing a clear contradiction. “What’s up with that 0.2?!”

Two things: (1) a better OP and (2) a formula breakup a la final case.

The first OP was so jarring that the animators added frames to smooth it out by episode 4. The second OP is a much more visually-appealing and synchronized package. Mistakes were learned from.

Gyakuten Saiban feels like a product of its time, and one that might have seen more success had it been released as a mini-series in the 90’s. Without the clever character dynamics and the very real threat of legal pressure that’s so effectively present in the games, Gyakuten Saiban’s case-by-case baddies come across as little more than “villains of the week,” and character-capitalizing comedy is reduced to cheap laughs. The result is a jarring “Saturday Morning Cartoon” feel that sacrifices character development for info-dumpy case details. In the end, the cases lose their value because there’s little to no emotional attachment to the characters whose lives, creeds, and reputations are episodically on the line.

The final case is, appropriately, the crowning arc of the series and breaks up the formula nicely (how, exactly, is spoiler territory). Ultimately, though, it cuts out far too many key moments to do its gut-punches justice. Where’s the Feenie/Edgey door-kick? Where’s the Psychlocks? Where’s the Demon Prosecutor tearing into Andrews?

When I allowed myself to view this anime adaptation as “bonus content”—something you might find attached to a limited-edition game bundle—I enjoyed it. I felt some nostalgia. I got chills. I even laughed until I cried at one point. But when I think that this adaptation will be the way some newcomers first experience the original Ace Attorney trilogy, I cringe. Yes, I’ll be checking out the eventual dubbed release. Yes, I’ll probably buy it, too. But at the end of the day, when the confetti rains and the judge hands down his final verdict, Gyakuten Saiban: Sono Shinjitsu, Igi Ari! is far from guiltless.

ReLIFE

ReLIFE
Re LIFE

Japesland – 6/10 

Many people likely forget (or weren’t alive for!) the popularization of straight-to-video anime. Of course, its prevalence in the 80s and 90s, Japan-exclusivity, and focus on pornographic content rather limits the audience…

In any case, it seems that the trend of streaming companies securing deals (or entirely funding production) for bulk episode production of shows, allowing for an entire show to go up all at once, has moved from Netflix and Hulu to the anime streaming world, demonstrated not exclusively but most recently by ReLIFE.

Unfortunately, that’s really the most unique part of ReLIFE, which is a rather unremarkable high school drama. It’s draw this time is that the main character is a part of a test that attempts to “rehabilitate” social misfits by drugging them up with a dose of some fictional medicine that alters your external appearance to look like that of a teenager (goodness, this would sell for millions if it were real). While the series was generally well received by fans, has some truly likable characters and an unforgettable hook, it is simply swallowed up by the sea of mediocre high school dramas that is modern anime. If you like the genre, you can’t go wrong, but you can also go right with literally hundreds of similar shows.

A group shot of the members of B-Project.

B-Project: Kodou*Ambitious
B-Project: Kodou*Ambitious

Emdaisy1 – 5/10

B-Project sounded like it would be similar to Uta no Prince-sama, one of my favorite anime, so I was excited for it. However, I was honestly not too impressed with it overall. The beginning started off okay, but the plot started to get lost around episode 5, which is also when the episodic songs almost stopped entirely. The show’s end felt super cliché (literal “your father killed my family so even though you know nothing about it you’re my revenge target” events occur) and forced (complete logic gaps to make it a “happy” end). There was also a lot of fujoshi bait (overly gay/homo moments between straight guys) that held no plot significance. Personal ranking of 7 because I watched for a band of bishounen doing cute things and was not let down on that. Objective ranking of 5 (bad for me). Only really worth watching if you want well-done fanservice and lots of cute boys dancing, swimming, posing for photos, etc. – just for your own sake skip episode 11 and only watch the last 5 minutes of 12.

rewrite banner

Rewrite
Rewrite

Kaze – 3/10

I admit I’m being very subjective with this score. If I was being purely subjective, it might get a 0. Rewrite is by far one of my most favorite stories ever written. I didn’t expect the anime to be as good as the VN, but I hoped, so very much, for it to be passable. I spent a lot of time speculating and theorizing how the anime could turn out, and what was likely or feasible for it to accomplish. Somehow, it managed to do almost exactly what I hoped it would while simultaneously being far worse than I could imagine. There was just so much wrong going on, I couldn’t write down everything. Characters didn’t get the right development, scenes weren’t built up properly, transitions were very random, animation was poor, music choices were odd, and then the latter half happened. The latter half which is supposed to be a major shift in tone and storytelling instead turned into a painful, boring slideshow of bad comedy in between casual comments about the world being destroyed. So many plot points to the VN were mentioned in passing, so nonchalantly that apparently many anime-only viewers didn’t even realize that stuff was supposed to be important, let alone that it was poorly explained. What annoys me the most is that the general direction the anime went wasn’t bad per se, but the entire build up (or lack thereof) and amount of information skipped in favor of my now-most-hated-not-funny-joke ever left the anime feeling like a hollow piece of pointless trash. At no surprise to anyone who read Rewrite, a second season was announced. Moon/Terra is what I have and still do describe as one of the most brilliant, if unintentional, Christian parallels in all of modern fiction. Whether the anime will actually convey that properly… is apparently no. Go read the VN.

DAYS ep 2 Tsukomoto running with team

DAYS
DAYS

Annalyn – 6.6/10

DAYS has neither wowed nor disappointed me so far. Let’s start with what makes it a little different from other sports anime I’ve seen: First, the main character, Tsukomoto, is an underdog beginner without any sign of hidden prodigy. His only special trait is his single-minded effort to improve for the sake of the team. Second, the team captain and others identify his potential as a future captain. These predictions intrigue me, and I want to see how Tsukomoto develops to fit their expectations. Third, there’s no elegance to the soccer matches. They’re just trying their hardest to win. Nothing fancy. That’s refreshing.

But the story leaves something to be desired. In the pilot, I feel like I missed something, because Kazama and Tsukomoto go from new friends to sappy BFFs with man crushes on each other so quickly. But then, in later episodes, they aren’t so much besties as expressive teammates who deeply admire each other. Relationships between characters begin but aren’t developed well, so it’s hard to get attached to a friendship or the people involved. (Ubukata Chikako is the main exception.) My other complaint: I don’t feel invested in the team’s performance. Yes, I care about how each match affects Tsukomoto, but I don’t feel like I’ve watched the team improve together, so I’m not ready to celebrate or mourn with them in the end. They don’t even talk much strategy or give me insight into the rules and positions. I need that kind of insight if I’m going to be mentally invested in the games.

Hopefully DAYS will improve as it continues. As it stands, it scores at a grade of 66%, somewhere between “meh” and “good enough.”

orange anime 5

Orange
Orange

Lynna – 7/10

It’s been a long time since I watched a school-life shoujo anime, and despite its faults, I’m really glad I decided to watch Orange. Although it did include some standard clichés, the time travel aspect made it more intriguing than usual. Although the characters didn’t seem very special at first, I slowly became invested over the first half of the story. There were some strong storytelling decisions that stood out in its slow, daily life pacing, and I was genuinely surprised several time. Most of all, Orange handled the topic of depression with a lot of sensitivity, and the results were very heartfelt.

The middle of the story was, unfortunately a little dull. The animation quality dropped, and the main character’s development faded into the background.  The last few episodes were much stronger, with heart wrenching drama and a mostly satisfying ending. In the end, the main couple carried the story well enough, but they could be frustrating at times, especially when the secondary characters tended to be stronger. Though the story left some things to be desired, I found it to be enjoyable and insightful. If you liked it, I recommend reading the manga, as the anime skipped over small details that really added some extra depth to the narrative.

lovelivesunshine

Love Live! Sunshine!!
Love Live! School Idol Project: Sunshine!!

stardf29 – 8/10

As a big fan of Love Live beforehand, I definitely was interested in how Sunshine would do its take on the school idol story and how it would distinguish itself from the original. Certainly, many of the characters shared traits with members of the original cast and even some plotlines were shared, though I thought even from the start that there were enough differences to keep it from feeling stale. Where things really get interesting, though, is when the show actually takes its surface similarities and subverts them, in the process setting a new identity for itself. As for how Sunshine holds up on its own, the story is overall well-crafted and uses the drama inherent in trying to achieve a dream well, while still having plenty of room for fun moments. The characters are all extremely likable and have good chemistry with each other, and the music, while subject to varying tastes, is definitely on the stronger end of idol music. The show does have its flaws, as the interpersonal drama is very hit-or-miss and the last episode is little more than filler while the show prepares for a second season (not yet announced, but almost certainly will happen).

As for whether or not to watch the original Love Live anime first, while not strictly necessary, I would recommend it, asSunshine does build a lot upon what the original did. It also will give you a better idea of whether you will like Sunshine or not, as the original does share many of the same strengths and flaws. Overall, for a fun, energetic, and inspiring show with lovable girls singing and dancing their hearts out, Love Live, including Sunshine, is well worth your time.

saikikusuo

Saiki Kusuo no Ψ-nan
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.

R86 – 7/10

Anime series starring characters with supernatural or psychic powers are not and have never been rare. But if you told high schooler Saiki Kusuo that you’d really like to have powers like his, he’d probably say that he’d gladly give them to you if he could. The rapid clip at which the show describes his powers as each episode goes by (it sure seems like there are a lot of them) equals the rapid clip at which Kusuo-kun is forced, quite against his will, to intervene in the lives of those surrounding him. This would include a large group of Kusuo’s “friends” from school (all of whom he either wishes to avoid or actively dislikes) as well as his hapless parents. Whether it’s using telekinesis to move not just furniture but even walls and doors to satisfy his mother’s redecorating urges, or teleportation so as to steer a malfunctioning airplane the rest of the way to Okinawa, or time reversal to undo a tricky situation involving his fellow students, it’s no wonder Kusuo-kun arrives home exhausted each day. And all the poor kid ever wanted to do was to eat his favorite coffee gelatin snack in peace. After all, how would you like it if you could never even so much as go to the movies, because your clairvoyance would read the thoughts of the customers exiting the theatre, spoiling the plot for you?

Perhaps it says more about my taste in humor than about the series itself that I look forward to it so much each week. Or perhaps it’s just that this past season had nothing else for me to enjoy more. I am not expecting this show to bring me any life-changing surprises to sock me in the feels, though then again, one never expects those. But if nothing else, Saiki Kusuo and his “disastrous life” are a dependably entertaining diversion, and one I can recommend with no reservation. The coffee gelatin snack, though, I might hesitate to recommend as strongly.

CheerBoysBreakers

Cheer Danshi!!
Cheer Boys

Emdaisy1 – 8/10

I started watching Cheer Boys out of sheer curiosity because, well, University boys’ cheer-leading? Definitely hit some points for unique as far as my anime experience thus far. Plus, I fully admit I was expecting it to be rather light-hearted, cheery, and upbeat with a buncha’ cute guys. Seldom have I been so happy to be wrong about a show being just that. Cheer Boys was actually a generally solid show, in my opinion. The plot seemed to be based on following the boys’ attempt to advance in cheer-leading competitions, but looking back it was actually based on the characters as they learned lessons the hard way. The final episode, while being a slight cliffhanger didn’t leave me disappointed at all, because it re-focused on that character growth really nicely. Another thing I really appreciated about the show was body diversity. The cheer-leading team was not composed solely of big, muscled guys – there were characters like Mizoguchi, the glasses-class nerd, and Ton, the overweight fried-pork-curry-challenge champion. It could have easily been a predictable cute-boys-doing-cute-things show but chose to be better. Overall, I’d say this is definitely worth checking out for a light-hearted story that’s totally clean/family-friendly!


Look forward to our final set of reviews tomorrow!

2 thoughts on “Summer Anime 2016 Review (Part 2/3)”

  1. The more I think about it, the more I feel like ReLIFE’s whole “adult back in high school” aspect actually helps the show stand out from the massive number of other high school drama/comedies. Not only does it make for some great jokes, but it also provides that whole “what would I do differently if I went back to high school” angle, as well as making for some interesting adult perspectives on teenager drama. Probably most important to this show, though, it connects the high school events to some serious and surprisingly dark aspects of working adult life. That’s not really something you see in most high-school dramas.

    At any rate, those elements, plus the strong execution of the show overall, mean I would give the show an 8/10. Definitely worth checking out if you like the whole idea of “an adult returns to high school”.

    Like

    1. “Definitely worth checking out if you like the whole idea of “an adult returns to high school”.”

      Now I’m imagining and animated “17 Again” haha. XD

      Like

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