Jesus Christ… I’m at a loss for words. I knew that not too many shows looked interesting to me this summer season, but I can’t believe how even among those few many of the ones I was interested in are turning into total crap right away. I’m pretty sure I’ve said before, in other seasonal first impressions posts that “this is the worst season ever” or “this is worst season I’ve seen in a while,” but this legitimately is the least appealing season I have ever come across. Those other “worst” seasons looked terrible at the time, this one I feel will remain terrible for some time, unless the upcoming seasons see an even further dip in creativity and quality shows, and I hope that doesn’t happen. Anyway like normal, I’m going to bitch and moan about what I’m definitely not watching and then go into a bit more detail on what I’ve seen.
This summer is looking so pro-BL it’s kind of mind boggling. I remember when Free kicked up a storm a few years back but that summer season had nothing on this one. Off the top of my head I can think of two boys idol groups anime, one show about a guy who’s into BL manga, one show about male cheerleaders, the sequel to what is essentially a magical girl show but with pretty boys instead of girls, and the reverse harem Hatsukoi Monster. There’s also Sacred Rider XechS or whatever which isn’t explicitly BL but has a bunch pretty boys in action roles. Oh and Fukigen no Mononokean which also isn’t explicitly BL but stars a pair of pretty boys with opposing personalities as the lead roles. And Servamp, (how the hell did forget that one?) which has a main guy that looks like he walked out of Kaichou wa Maid and stars only pretty boys as far as I can tell. By comparison I think there’s only two or three shows that look like trashy fanservice romps for dudes, most notably Masou Gakuen HxH which was at least very upfront about it’s intent, the description even says it’s about a dude going to a special school with busty girls in skimpy flight suits.
In addition to man and fanservice shows we have a bunch of sequels, all of which are looking increasingly suspect or were just never wanted in the first place, like Active Raid season 2. Berserk 2016 is another great example as the all CG art has gotten a lot of fans worried, though in my case I’ve yet to really get into Berserk and don’t care either way beyond my usual dislike of CG in comparison to traditional animation. What makes me more worried though is that some of the sequels that look good to me are either under-performing in a big way or are being made unusually short for reasons I don’t understand. Anyway, onto the shows I’ve actually watched.
91 Days: The first episode of this was actually pretty good. After being burned big time by Gangsta and Joker Game I was beginning to worry when I saw another story involving gangsters and/or the 1930’s. However while I can’t say 91 Days has totally won my approval with just episode one, it is looking much more like a Baccano than a Joker Game or Gangsta, and I love Baccano. So I’ll hold out some hope for this one.
Arslan Senki Season 2: This is by far the best show of the season, which pisses me off because I know it’s only eight episodes. I’ve never heard of anything airing weekly getting less than ten episodes, and now the best show of the season as of yet gets only eight… I swear this season was designed to piss me off. On the plus side Arslan Senki season 2 had far and away the best start of the season. There have already been some big battles, major political events, and the re-emergence of certain factions from season 1. Best of all though episode one immediately forced me to reassess my complaint that season 1 should have been the end of the main conflict, because it gave a clear reason why Arslan didn’t go forward and take back Ecbatana, he had to go defend the border from a new wave of invaders. In doing so, the show has proven itself to be more nuanced and complex, a better reflection of the chaotic malestrom of the ancient world. This is both intriguing and impressive, and from a purely artistic standpoint I applaud Arslan Senki for being willing to get more complex while still being very clear and easy to understand, not many anime do that very well. That said I am also a bit worried. The eight episode season alone is cause for concern as it means Arslan Senki season 2 is already currently a quarter of the way through it’s run. But more importantly I’m concerned that the more complex and nuanced Arslan Seni gets, the longer it will take for the conflict to end, and the lower the chances are that I get to see it all put to animation. Other than that far off concern, this was a huge relief in a season I was being let down by, well done Arslan Senki, well done indeed.
D Gray Man Hallow: In case you missed my awesome rant about this show I’ll spell out my opinion in brief, this is a piece of shit. For some reason D Gray Man Hallow is trying to a reboot and continuation at the same time, the story is continuing but they literally redid everything else, new voice actors, new outfits, and new tone, and it’s all shit. I’m actually blown away by how thoroughly they fucked up the first episode. I’ll probably keep watching but only to see how badly they continue to mangle the show, because this shit is not the real D Gray Man and I will dedicate myself to proving it to all the people looking forward to this show. Episode two was a bit better but it was still pretty bad and all changes still bothered me.
Fukigen no Mononokean: This was a bit less interesting than I anticipated. I’m pretty big into mythical creatures and lore and decided to give this show a shot based on that, but I have a feeling the focus is mostly going to be on teasing a yaoi relationship between the mostly cold and mean exorcist and the happy,warmer pretty boy who can see demons. I could be wrong and hope I’m wrong, but honestly episode one just wasn’t all that appealing. And episode two didn’t do much to improve my opinion.
Hitora no Shita: As of episode one, this is looking to be one of the better shows of the season. Apparently it’s from China and the characters have Chinese names even though the show is dubbed in Japanese. In any event episode one kicks off with a some supernatural events, zombies and a deadpan girl who kicks ass with a knife. In fact said girl gets into a fight scene with said zombies and it really reminded of a similar scene from the Kara no Kyoukai films, which I’m a pretty big fan of. Definitely piques my interest amid all the shows that have let me down thus far.
Nanatsu no Taizai: Seisen no Shirushi: This is isn’t out yet and according to Anichart won’t be for sometime. I assume, since it’s only four episodes, that all the episodes will be released in one go, like Hanamonogatari, and it’ll function more as Nanatsu no Taizai spin-off movie more so than any kind of meaningful sequel. I don’t really mind assuming that’s the case, though I wish we a got full sequel instead.
Nejimaki Seirei Senki: This could honestly go either way. It has an unbelievably bad naming sense, with character and country names that look like someone mashed he keyboard with their eyes closed and said ‘aw fuck it, good enough.’ The setting thus far has been bland and unexplained, though their is the possibility for loads of potential here as both steampunk tech and tiny spirit creatures are involved, meaning we might get some good tech vs magic or tech-magic combat. The only thing that’s really good thus far is the main guy, who’s a bit of an ass and is upfront about everything, but does borrow elements of Ryner Lute’s character from Legend of the Legendary Heroes, and I dig Ryner so maybe this will turn out alright.
orange: This could be very hit or miss. The premise is that a girl writes a letter to herself ten years in the past with a list of instructions to get her past self to correct her mistakes. If the characters get developed well enough and the drama and tension are there, I think this will work out pretty good. That said episode one didn’t necessarily inspire confidence, the main girl undid an inconsequential mistake, and if the other mistakes she has to correct are like that, then the show will probably suck. Also the girl whose parents run a bakery was like over-animated in her movements, it was bizarre to look at. That said the back-and-forth dialogue and character interactions were pretty good so it’s totally possible this show gets really good. Episode two likewise did not inspire much confidence but wasn’t bad either.
Psycho Mob 100: This looks decent, maybe it’s the hype or high expectations getting to me but episode was just decent. I dig the super expressive art style and flashy psychic powers, but the characters aren’t really doing it for me as of yet. Given a bit more time I think this has a good chance of getting really good, but episode one was just wasn’t a particularly good start.
Qualidea Code: This looks ok. To be honest A-1 Pictures has been putting put a lot of trashy shows and corporate cash grabs recently so it’s nice to them putting a show that looks a cut above shitty light novel adaptations. That said episode one wasn’t great, it was just decent. But it looks like there will some cool superpowers in play and it’s possible the story could go somewhere. I would not bet on this being any better than entertaining in the long run but entertaining is fine most of the time, so I suppose there’s no harm no foul.
Rewrite: This was a mess. I know some people are excited because this by the people who did Clannad and Angel Beats but personally I was wondering the hell was going on most of the episode. It has some very tropy characters, none of whom were interesting as of yet. The setting is an interesting take on a modern city, with this being a super pro-green city that functions as an experiment (I think), so that’s good. But there’s a bunch of supernatural stuff going on and it was a nightmare of weird shit, it has minimal cohesion and none of it has been explained yet. Like there’s a girl who controls these ribbons of cloth who kills the main guy in a dream (or maybe alternate timeline) and then sneaks into his room to bite him vampire-style (I think, they didn’t really show what she was doing) and then she fights a giant CG octopus. There’s also these sort of plant based fairy things, a couple of strange people at school who probably have super powers and… I guess what I’m trying to say is that this is all of the most insane bullshit that was in both Clannad and Angel Beats, mixed together and then cranked up to eleven. I’m not saying this can’t be good, but my gut reaction is that this will fall apart like Angel beats did in later episodes.
Sacred Rider XechS: This was honestly pretty shit. It had a bunch of generic monsters and pretty boys in fighting suits with superpowers. I’ll give it another episode or two because there is so little else I’m eager to see but my guess is that I will drop it. The only thing I liked was the girl who apparently has unique powers saying I want to die, she was ok.
Taboo Tattoo: Taboo Tattoo is just weird. Very little happens in the first episode besides a pair of flashy fights, which I’ll get into a second. The characters are not interesting yet and I’m not a fan of the character designs. Likewise the cityscapes are full of terrible looking CG buildings and the other backgrounds are flat and boring. Then there’s the fights, they are a mixed bag. The second fight was very basic but it was very easy to understand and it looked decent. The first fight is super weird. It starts really good, it’s comprehensible, we see the ground, we understand the sense of space, and so on. However as the fight progress the “camera” moves all over the fucking place and we stop understanding the sense of space, the fight stops being fluid too. Like at first we see the steps, and wind ups to a punch but later the fight is constantly cutting straight to the hits without show us how the hit got there because the camera flys away from the fight for a second in between all the hits, it’s just bizarre. The impact of the hits is handled really well throughout though. Honestly this show feels like it was pumped out on the cheap, the script is boring thus far, the powers are not interesting yet, the backgrounds are awful, and it has this trope I’ve come hate over the years where “X fictional country from [insert third world region] somehow becomes a superpower thanks to random natural resource.” I keep seeing this trope (it’s in Black Ops 2, the Avengers and Dimension W as a few examples) and I personally fucking hate it because I think it’s dumb, especially in a modern or near future setting, this isn’t the days of yore when Assyria invented iron forged weapons and armor and totally crushed the bronze armed and armored world, even if an African country today or in the near future got rich off a natural resource nothing would change the power balance of the world, because it hasn’t happened in the Middle East which currently has the most of one of the most valuable resources in the world. And if it ever looked like it could happen the current top dogs would crush the nation and take resources anyway, it’s called preemptive warfare. And episode two was just some trashy, boring high school scenes and introductions for some of the edgiest characters in anime since Akame ga Kill. Also if you’re going to set the evil kingdom in Africa, make it’s inhabitants look African, not just like any other anime characters, even Dimension W paid more attention to detail than this show.
Tales of Zestria the X: Maybe this would be ok if you’ve played the game, I haven’t so I don’t know, but episode one was a total clusterfuck. So much happened without any explanation, the chronology was weird and it was just a bunch of nonsense and eye candy with no coherent flow of information. I’ll probably keep going to see if it goes anywhere put I won’t be surprised if this isn’t great because to be honest I have never been all that big a fan of Ufotable’s work after Kara no Kyoukai and Fate Zero, and the God Eater anime felt much the same in episode 1, which I admit was all I saw because of how chaotic it was, though even God Eater was not quite incoherent as Zestria the X has been so far. And then episode two rolled around and nothing improved, we’ve been introduced to even more characters and weird shit and none of it has any explanation beyond “old legend,” also there was a hideous CG mountainside the main guys where running around in and they can’t fucking pronounce the main guy’s name. It’s spelled Sorey, with two syllables but what everyone says sounds more “slay” with just one syllable. I’m dropping this one and unless you’re a fan of the game I don’t recommend it.