Wow. The Summer anime season has kind of caught me off guard with how many shows have piqued my interest and I have no idea how I'm going to keep up. I'm already trying to follow three shows carrying on from Spring (Hanasaku Iroha, Nichijou, Steins;Gate), so I'm going to have some tough decisions to make schedule-wise.
I'm sure many of you have caught some of the awesome communityguides already underway, but I'd like to toss in a few of my own opinions, including a couple shows that haven't really been covered yet. So here we go!
Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Ni
In one sentence: If you like Ichi, you'll like Ni.
Baka Test is one of my favorite comedies and I’ve been psyched for season two since the day it was announced. Sure it’s the usual high school stuff at it’s core, but toss it into a blender with a crazy summon battle system and a healthy dose of pastel halftone dots and you’ve got yourself a funny, unique show.
That being said, the first episode of Baka Test Ni was a little disappointing. In an unprecedented move, they basically roll out the mid-season filler Beach episode to get things started. Maybe I’m wrong and easing the viewer back in with slightly stale jokes and girls in swimsuits is a clever move, but I just didn’t feel like they brought their “A” game like most series do for their first episode. Fortunately the show can skate by on Hideyoshi jokes and style when necessary and I’m almost certain things will be back on track once we’re back to battling.
In one sentence: Pretty boys try to save crazy-penguin-hat-zombie-girl.
For all the talk of surrealism and general WTF moments I heard about going into Mawaru Penguindrum, I actually didn’t think it was that strange. Oh there's bizarre stuff going down, don't get me wrong, but the tragic circumstances facing the Takakura siblings bring things back down to Earth with a heavy thud. There are plenty of mysteries to be solved (the identity of the “hat”, what exactly is a penguindrum?) but the general idea of “get mysterious object, save little sister, can you change fate?” remains intact by the end of the first episode.
I’ll admit I’m late to the party when it comes to Brain’s Base, but after finally catching Durarara and now this I’m starting to see why people love them. The art is gorgeous, the story is unique but still human, and while an overall goal seems to be in place Penguindrum seems to be capable of going in any direction it wants. The only thing I'm sure of is I’ll be sticking around for the ride.
Dantalian no Shoka
In one sentence: Index gets a fancy dress and starts hanging out with a real man.
Gainax doing an early 20th century fantasy/mystery adaptation? Sold… right? Well, the look and feel of Dantalian no Shoka’s setting and characters is fantastic. Aside from the massive moe eyes of our main heroine Dalian, the show's art style and music feel pulled from an earlier era of animation and I mean that in a good way. Creepy pop-up books that come to life and some business about keys and key keepers make for some potentially interesting plot points, although more questions are raised than answered.
My only concern I had while watching this episode is the same concern I have with any light novel adaptation: too much talking! I enjoy good dialogue as much as the next guy, it’s just that particularly lengthy conversations usually work better on printed page than in animated form. Every light novel adaptation I’ve seen suffers from this at some point and Dantalian no Shoka is no exception. There’s only so much you can tell from one episode, but I get the impression that Dantalian is going to have more of those moments than I would care for. Still, I'm complaining more than the show deserves. There’s a lot to like here (including Miyuki Sawashiro doing her best Rie Kugimiya impersonation) and the concept has a lot of potential. I just hope they keep things moving as we go along.
In one sentence: I'm probably going to jail.
I watched Idolmaster with every intention of laughing at how shameless and pandering any anime based on an idol-creating video game would naturally be. What I got was a cleverly made documentary-style episode that was the best possible way they could have handled the thin source material. The surprisingly artful direction made introducing the army of girls less of a chore and actually kind of fun. Of course each girl was pretty much the generic archetype you’d expect, but hey I’ll give them credit where credit is due.
As the novelty of the series direction wears off I’m sure this will still be the moe-filled romp about perseverance and the power of friendship l was expecting. But the first episode did leave me politely clapping and saying “OK Idolmaster, you got me this time” and that’s well above my expectations.
Well, that's about all I've had time to check out. If anyone has any suggestions on what I should pick up or drop, feel free to share. You can also catch me on twitter @jelx23 if that's your thing.
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