Summer Anime 2016 Review (Part 3/3)

Shokugeki no Souma: Ni no Sara
Food Wars! The Second Plate

Annalyn – 7/10

Shokugeki 2 only has thirteen episodes, and I am not okay with that. I had my hopes up for twenty-four (like in the first season), so I was very disappointed when I realized I was watching the last episode.

Honestly, Shokugeki is one of those anime I watch primarily for fun, so I take very few notes—something I regret when review time rolls around. Still, I can confidently say that the visuals are good, the story is enjoyable, the characters are fun, and the cooking battles are suspenseful (and informative, as usual!). It’s a tad fast paced, making it difficult to savor each subconflict. There are a couple of specific pacing issues that may be the cause of my dissatisfaction… but honestly, 90% of it’s probably annoyance that the season’s already over.

A few other cheerful notes: (1) The ecchi content is toned way down this season, to my relief. I was able to watch it without headphones around my family, and I could even have had the screen turned toward them during most of the food-tasting scenes. I still don’t recommend this anime for everyone, but the second season is much more watchable than the first. (2) Shokugeki inspires me to try new recipes and experiment in the kitchen. (3) Did I mention that this show is fun?


R86 – 4/10 

I have a long tradition of being no respecter of persons when it comes to mangaka, voice actors, studios, or even producers. So I have no excuse for going into Battery saying to myself, But it’s noitaminA! What could go wrong?

My main complaint about the show is that I have absolutely no idea, even having watched the entire series, exactly what it’s about. We start out when 12-year-old Harada Takumi, middle-school pitching savant, moves with his parents and younger brother to Nitta, in Okayama prefecture. There they move in with the boys’ grandfather, and begin their respective new school lives.

It is at this point that the show starts to seem, week after week, like a stand-up comedian who tells three-quarters of a joke, then moves onto the next one before finishing it, and completes an entire mind-boggling set like that, as the audience stares in disbelief. Is this show trying to tell me (as I expected) about the budding relationship between a pitcher and catcher, even as they try to navigate being awkward creatures somewhere in between children and teenagers? Or about the appearance, in and of itself, of a catcher who can actually match Takumi’s talent? Is it about the somewhat sickly younger brother who adores his older brother and (almost tragically) wants to be just like him? Or about what happens when teammates not only fail to get along well, but even at times rather hate each other? Any one of these plot points would be interesting, if followed through to an actual conclusion. What we have instead is like a pitcher throwing a slow meatball right across the plate, to which the batter’s response is to stand there, motionless and defiant, as the ball lands, to the astonishment of the catcher, in his mitt: Strike!

So although it might be needless to say it, I can by no means recommend Battery. If, like me, you need a steady diet of baseboys in your life, I can recommend the very forgettable 2011 series Moshidora far more. If other sportsboys will do, you may also have volleyboys, basketboys, or even swimboys, and will in all cases find a superior show.

“Battery” did, however, inspire me to come up with a comedian analogy and a baseball analogy in the same essay. So at least there’s that.


stardf29 – 8/10 

First of all, the ARIA anime series is my absolute favorite anime series of all time. Original mangaka Kozue Amano and anime director Jun’ichi Sato worked together to create an absolute masterpiece of atmosphere and character-driven storytelling. Seeing these two work together again, albeit this time with a much more down-to-earth setting, is definitely a treat, and while Amanchu is not quite as amazing as ARIA was, it still stands up well as its own show. The relaxed atmosphere and character-driven storytelling is still there, and you can even learn a fair amount about scuba diving in the process. The show does have some flaws, as it can get a bit heavy-handed with the various philosophies it teaches, the other characters, while likable, do have quirks that can be annoying, and while ARIA used super-deformed faces in moderation for comedic effect, Amanchu uses them so often that I am pretty sure they are their default faces. Still, watching the lead girl Futaba slowly grow out of her shell with the help of diving and her friends is quite a joy, and the show paces itself well in that regard to maintain its relaxing nature while slowly but surely pushing Futaba’s growth towards a definitive climax (though far from a conclusion).

Like most iyashikei shows, this is not a show to be marathoned in one sitting. Watch no more than one episode a day and let it digest. Not all fans will like this show’s slow, methodical pacing. However, fans of slower-paced, character-driven slice-of-life will not want to miss this one.

Mob Psycho 100
Mob Psycho 100

Japesland – 7/10

From the same author who brought us One Punch Man comes another narrative about a hopelessly overpowered hero. Of course, and thankfully, that’s about where the writing similarities begin and end. Mob Psycho 100 is a strange beast, but one that I wish we would see more often. Strange art. Strange characters. Strange writing. Yet its strangeness is what makes it stand out so superbly. Next to Re:Zero, I think I had the strangest and most inconsistent relationship with Mob Psycho 100 this season.

Episode one: “This is ugly and weird. No thank you.”
Episode six: “Wow, I actually really care about what’s happening, and the characters don’t look weird to me anymore. When did that happen?”
Episode eleven: “Okay, this is actually pretty awesome.”
Episode twelve: “Ah. Oh. Okay, fine then.”

I think that Mob Psycho 100‘s ending, without spoiling it, holds it back from being a classic without a solid follow-up. But with that said, you can certainly watch much worse anime, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was one of my highlights this season, if only for its intensely-animated fight sequences.

Active Raid: Kidou Kyoushuushitsu Dai Hachi Gakari 2nd
Active Raid: Special Public Security Fifth Division Third Mobile Assault Eighth Unit 2nd

Medieval Otaku – 7/10

This show comes out ahead of the previous season in the strength of the main plot.  I rate it the same as Berserk (2016), but I’d say that this is hands down the better of the two shows, which is saying something.  Active Raid suffers from a bit of a slow start, but every episode somehow fits into the overarching plot.  Though we have a greater variety of characters, the show avoids the “Loads and Loads of Characters flaw.”  Each primary and secondary character gets enough screen time so that we get to know all of them well by the end of the show–not a bad achievement!  The consequences for failure strike one as more severe, which makes the action all the more engrossing.  I can’t wait for a third season!

New Game!
New Game!

Samuru – 7/10

As a gamer, I watched this show with high expectations. Since it’s about Aoba, a girl who starts a new job in her favorite gaming company, I wanted to see lots of screen-time with programming and how companies create video games. There’s lots of detail on those points given in the first few episodes but after that it’s not the focus. The rest of the show is introductions to different characters, silly circumstances that Aoba is placed in or hang outs with friends. Sure, I know that’s what a slice-of-life anime is about since I’ve seen many of them, but if the show is about getting into a video game company and how that works, I would like to see more of that.

Aside from that gripe, the animation is excellent but be warned that there are a few fan-service moments spread out but it’s not too bad. There are plenty of laughs to be had as well, since the girls make their job fun and rich with personality. There’s some good character development and conversations throughout which I also enjoyed. If your looking for a relaxing anime that is a little funny and silly, but eventually forgettable, then check New Game out.

Re: Zero Kara Hajimaru Isekai Seikatsu
Re: Zero Starting Life in Another World

Kaze – 6/10

Re: Zero was definitely the most popular anime of the season, so I guess I’ll have to give a longer review than I usually do. I didn’t like Re: Zero starting at episode 1, and I didn’t really like it at any point after that. The characters are poorly written, and the more the story moved forward (or backward), the more inconsistent the characters’ actions and personalities became, except for Emilia, who was so incredibly one-dimensional, that’s hardly a good thing. Now, I partially understand the argument that Subaru is just a normal otaku being thrown into a crazy situation. But when every arc uses the same formula of him dancing around like a headless chicken before magically discerning a solution, it’s clear that the author isn’t a good writer.

And I think that’s a big issue with Re:Zero; it’s entertaining, and I’ll give it that much, but the writing quality is poor or average at best. A lot of things happen because it’s entertaining, not because it actually makes sense from a writing perspective. For example, when Subaru wants to run away from the problems, he’s pulled back to reality by Rem, and this episode had many varying opinions by fans, but my opinion was that was possibly some of the worst writing ever. He supposedly has a bad case of PTSD, which is already an issue because they’ve used that plot point already (okay, not as guilty as what Blood+ did). But then he’s entirely cured because a cute girl confesses to him. I’ve seen PTSD many, many times in the past, but that was perhaps the dumbest solution ever. There were many other points in the show where I just sat there wondering how these characters made any sense at all.

But it’s not like I hated the show. I gave it a 6/10 (and if you know my ratings, that’s above average). Anime isn’t all about the writing, and Re:Zero did a pretty darn good job with everything not related to the source material. The animation was decent (problems here and there), the art was great, specifically with facial expressions conveying powerful emotions, the music was appropriate, and then there was the voice acting. The voice cast was 70% of the reason I started the anime in the first place, and while I considered dropping it after the first half, when I saw the new cast announcements, I was hopelessly roped in. Noto, Inorin, Arai, Rie, Hocchan, Yukarin, Matsuoka, Ueda, etc. etc. my god that is one the most impressive voice casts since Cross Ange, and you can hear it. In conclusion, I think Re:Zero succeeded a lot on the production side, which made a big impact on how people responded, but the writing itself was extremely lackluster.

91 Days
91 Days

Annalyn – 8/10

I tried not to be too subjective with my score, because I tend to rate mafia anime a bit high, but I’m sure my bias came through anyway. The plot and themes in 91 Days don’t break new ground. Like many organized-crime-related series and movies, it shows how a person can become trapped in a cycle of darkness, particularly when revenge is involved. At almost every turn, it reminds me of anime that have made me think (Gungrave, Gangsta.) or of the famous film The Godfather (all the way down to the black-and-white title graphics and the don’s daughter’s wedding). But I’m not tired of these themes. And while I always prefer to see a bit more redemption in my shows, it’s sometimes appropriate to just present the emptiness of a broken, dark system—such as one built on death and revenge. Still, there are a couple moments where I’m not sure whether or not the characters will overcome the system and reconcile—and these moments help bring the story’s score up.

A few other things I appreciate about this anime: (1) Primary and secondary characters are well rounded, with both light and dark sides. (2) There are a few moments of humor, especially between Avilio (pictured above) and Nero—moments that are essential to helping us through this otherwise serious show. (3) The music is so wonderful, I actually noticed it and sought it out elsewhere. This applies to the OP, the ED, the background music, and especially that section in the middle of the pilot. (4) The landscapes are almost like watercolor paintings. This drew my attention—and the other visuals are pretty good, too. (5) Even though the series is only twelve episodes long, I’m satisfied with each character’s development—including that of Corteo, who surprised me without making me question the believability of his development in the last couple episodes. (6) There’s some lovely symbolism, particularly with light and candles in the first episode.

Fukigen na Mononokean
The Morose Mononokean

Japesland – 6/10

Lazy review, ho!

To use R86’s favorite word, Fukigen na Mononokean is unobjectionable. I enjoyed watching it throughout the season. I can’t recall any glaring problems with it. By the same token, I can’t really recall, well, anything about it. There’s a pretty attractive blond male co-lead that I probably would have purchased a figure of if I were female. There are lots of Shinto-inspired yokai. It happens in a… high school I think?

Oh, that’s right, there’s a super adorable fuzzy white dog-thing called Moja-Moja!

That’s about it.

Tales of Zestiria the X
Tales of Zestiria the X

Emdaisy1 – 9/10

I’ll start by admitting that some personal, subjective bias may be present in my review…. after all, I’m a big fan of the Tales of series. However I never knew before this anime that some of the games have anime adaptations, so I was really excited about this! This anime was based on part (not all) of the corresponding game’s  (Tales of Zestiria on PS4) story, as we follow Sorey through the first steps in his journey as the Shepherd, trying to save the world with the help of his Seraphim and a few comrades. My summary is poorly worded, but my opinion, in summary, is that I loved this show! I honestly think I would have enjoyed it just as much if I weren’t familiar with the game it’s based on. The characters are lovable (I *need* to hug Sorey… he’s too cute), the plot is solid, and I thought both the soundtrack and art were gorgeous! I think the show is a really good coming-of-age or loss of innocence type story, while also being a great fantastical adventure. The only problems I had with the show were the open cliffhanger left by the side plot taking place in episodes 5-6 and the CG animation for the dragons and other
larger hellions looking kinda’ weird (out of place against the beautifully drawn backgrounds). Aside from that, I highly recommend giving this show a shot!

Thanks for reading our reviews and have a great fall season!


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

  1. I completely disagree on the Re:Zero rating. Well, except for what you said about Emilia: she was indeed one-dimensional, maybe even zero-dimensional. Re:Zero was the best thing I’ve seen since Kill la Kill. Everyone hates Subaru, but as a character he’s supposed to be a loser. He’s supposed to be an extremely flawed person. I don’t mind his single-minded obsession with Emilia because that’s how his character is established.

    Re:Zero is awesome because of all the great girls in this series. From Rem to Ram to Beatrice to Priscilla to Crusch, Re:Zero really shows some girl power. The only girl who isn’t any good is Emilia herself. It’s the supporting characters like Wilhelm and Felix who prop up this story and give it flavor and spice.

    I want to see Re:Zero dubbed, and preferably, put on Toonami for everyone to see. I give it a 9/10 as an absolutely excellent series.

    1. Well firstly, we clearly have very different opinions since I gave Kill la Kill a 5/10, so I don’t think we’ll agree, but we can still have civil discourse. I never said I hated Subaru. My issue with him is the same with every other main character in that he is a very poorly written character. I don’t mean poor as in not likable but poor as in inconsistent from a writing perspective. He has many points of development throughout the series, but all of them disappear and are forgotten in the next arc, not just in personality but also in knowledge gained about the world (which he forgets temporarily to build conflict then remembers when it’s time for the plot to solve the conflict). I also find Rem’s character incredibly questionable, especially in the latter half where any interesting points she started with were cast away in favor of unwavering love and dedication for Subaru. Priscilla is by far my favorite character (who incidentally has the same voice as NuiNui, by far my favorite character in KLK) and Crusch was good as well but they both got very little screen time, and it is far too common for authors to ruin characters the more they write about them.

      Many stories I think of with excellent female casts have anime adaptations that butchered said characters (Tsukihime, MajiKoi, OreTsuba, Rewrite, to name a few), but I’d still put Nanoha, Kara no Kyoukai, Katanagatari, and Crest of the Stars as all having a great cast of females and writing far better than Re:Zero. Come to think of it, Moribito’s Balsa is probably one of the most beloved and awesome female anime characters of the last decade. The upcoming anime Zaregoto also has a brilliant cast of girls but whether the anime will do them justice is another story, and it’ll be years before it gets to characters like Hime and Shiogi-chan. Anyway, while I can respect liking a show for having a great cast of girls (which is very rare), I can’t agree that Re:Zero succeeds in that.

  2. I knew Food Wars S2 was going to be only 13 episodes going in, but I still feel like the pacing wasn’t as good. I think it’s because there was much less variety this season. The first season, even within each individual half, had a variety of challenges for Soma and crew to overcome; this season was largely taken up by the Autumn Elections, with a bit of an extra arc at the end. I still enjoyed it, though, and would also give it a 7/10.

    Between the setting and the surprising development of some of the characters, New Game has become one of my favorite cute-girls-doing-cute-things shows. Review-wise I’d give it an 8/10; I think its use of older characters in a workplace setting can make it a nice change of pace for those too tired of high school anime, increasing its recommendability.

    And for those that don’t know already, I have a new personal blog! I’ve written a post there that goes into my personal thoughts and ranking of the shows I watched this season, These are different from my “review scores” here, which are measures of how much I’d recommend the show to others. You can check it out here:

    1. The Autumn Elections to Stagiaire arc ratio is one of the pacing issues I noticed, too. Since the pacing was so unbalanced, I had this feeling of incongruity. The season just felt less put together than the first ep. The stagiaire episodes almost felt like an interruption to the main conflict, even though the characters were still working toward the same overarching goals. They were still fun… just less satisfying. Hopefully next time we’ll get a fuller dose of Shokugeki. I’m willing to wait longer for source material to build so they can put together twenty-four solid episodes.

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