First Impressions: Summer 2015 – Part 1
Well here we go with the Summer season! Since everything seems to be coming out all at once it seems to be a bit more sensible to do larger impressions posts again this season. I mean, the season only started a couple of days ago and I’ve already seen 17 shows – weekends are once again packed!
Anyway I’m basically just writing about these in no particular order – whatever I watched first basically. So first up is;
- Ranpo Kitan – Game of Laplace
- Okusama ga Seitokaichou!
- Classroom Crisis
- Aoharu x Kikanjuu
- Hetalia – The World Twinkle
Well it was certainly refreshing to have a series focused on adults and set outside Japan, and I was pretty surprised by how much sex, violence and drugs it managed to stick into its opening episode – this anime definitely isn’t for kids. Still for all the victimised sex workers, badass gangsters and corrupt cops, Gangsta still clings to the rule of cool and doesn’t quite manage to fully escape its anime trappings – eg: Nicolas takes down a horde of gun wielding flunkies with just a katana and nearly kicks over a car. We’re not really talking hyper realistic depictions of street crime here – which is fine with me since I enjoy more hyper stylised violence in my anime. I also really liked how we’re allowed to figure out through little hints peppered throughout the course of the episode that Nicolas is hearing impaired, rather than being flat out told so at the beginning – its a nice twist on the silent psycho trope.
In terms of production it’s all pretty decent actually. The character designs are all very clearly meant to be as stylish as possible while still being realistic, and the backgrounds are all grimy as you’d expect from this kind of setting. The action scenes are pretty cool too – which is the most important thing in this kind of action orientated series, and there is very little censoring going to distract you from the violence.
I’m not sure how much of a story they’re going to get from this typical well-meaning vigilante set-up, but I’m definitely going to give Gangsta another few episodes to see where its going. This opening episode was certainly an attention grabbing one.
I have mixed feelings about this opening episode of Game of Laplace. On one hand I really like the stylised, theatrical presentation of the show and I’m excited to see another mystery series, but on the other I’m really not fond of the clinical, flat characterisation. These characters do not show any normal, human response to the grisly crime scene they’re faced with. No one expresses more than the most perfunctory adulations of horror or shock at finding a teachers body beheaded and arranged to resemble a chair. There is so little reaction the crime that it really takes you out of the mystery.
The main character’s strange reactions are particularly jarring – he expresses nothing but excitement and happiness to be embroiled in this horrific murder mystery – not really the expected reaction of a teenaged boy who finds himself being prime suspect! Even his best friend, who has some more realistic reactions, starts to get very hard to understand when he seems much more keen on protecting the strangely elated protagonist than showing shock over his teacher’s murder. And then there is the teen detective who only seems capable of smirking and lording his too cool for school super-intelligence over the rest of the cast, the neko-mimi substitute teacher who is apparently 32, and the shows strange obsession with the fact the main character looks like a girl, but is actually a boy. There is just too much weird abstraction to really care about the actual events in any realistic manner.
Saying all that, I really do like the presentation of the series – the washed out feel of the world and the vibrant splashes of colour, and the way that characters are blanked out until they become important make it a visually interesting series to watch. Things are framed on screen in a stylised, theatrical manner and it does grab your attention. But for a mystery there is just no human connection to the show, and that is a major stumbling block for me. I am giving it another few episodes so see if the story can draw me in as much as the visuals, but this wasn’t quite the opening episode I’d have liked.
Okay onto one of this seasons shorts then. This is a typical MC-kun acquires attractive girlfriend thanks to meddling, absent parents show. It’s unique selling point is that the girl is more than willing to be married off to the initially reluctant MC, and that there is uncensored boobs. In other words, here we have a couple of horny teenagers living together without adult supervision, acting like horny teenagers. I suppose that is something rather rare for an anime. Personally these 8 minutes were more than enough for me and I’ll not be watching any more.
This was a much more interesting opening episode than I had expected given the promo material – it was actually quite fun. It kind of reminded me a bit of Mouretsu Pirates, with the class of kids all working together on a space ship thing that was going on, just a bit more grounded and less camp. I liked the way everyone’s enthusiasm to show what their prototype could do, was damped by the real-world cost of each part and how much repairs would ruin their budget. Weirdly the mash-up of a school setting & company politics worked better than I thought it would, although I think I would still have preferred if this was set with actual adults in a proper work-place……but we can’t all be Shirobako.
On the production front it’s serviceable – nothing amazing visually, but there are some nice shots and I do like the general design of the setting. I’m going to watch another episode to see if the characters grow on me, but not sure if I’ll be sticking this out for the full run.
Next short then and this is 8 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. Wakaba Girl is a bog standard ‘cute girls’ s’life show – except so far they don’t even seem to do cute things. Basically the entire focus seems to be on this sheltered rich girl whose life aspiration is to be a generic ‘highschool girl’ and her interactions with some ordinary girls in her new class. That’s it. There is no other discernible gimmick or point to this show – I was bored stupid. Dropped like a brick.
GATE: Jieitai Kanochi Nite, Kaku Tatakaeri (Gate: The Self-Defense Forces Fight Like This in Another Land)
I actually liked this opening episode, but I’m still super sceptical about the series as a whole. The main reason being I have a feeling that this first episode isn’t really representative of the whole show – there was a noticeable lack of the cute girls present in all the promo material and prominent in the OP & ED! Still for an opening episode this really did a good job hooking the viewer in. I fond myself liking the main character – an unrepentant otaku who only steps up the plate repel the invading forces, because he wants the situation to end ASAP so he can get to a doujinshi event.
I also like the fact we’ve got a cast of adults in this episode and the action is surprisingly violent. So yeah as a stand alone episode I definitely liked this. Things did get a bit weird at the end though with the government’s decision that Japan would invade the territory on the other side of the Gate, claim it as its own and extract compensation for the attack on Ginza from the residents – that was a touch…yeah.
On the production side everything is good……well except for the super generic designs for the fantasyland invaders – serious lack of effort in making those orc soldiers look in anyway unique there. But the action was quite well done on the whole. So good first episode, but can’t get rid of the feeling that this is the exception and that GATE proper will be a different beast altogether. Which of course means I need to watch another episode or two to find out for myself!
I really enjoyed this – for purely shallow reasons really. It’s yet another show centred on air-soft survival games, our main character is a strangely strong girl with a short temper masquerading as a boy for unknown reasons, and this first episode mostly takes place in a host club. It was entertaining to see Aoharu bouncing about the place with not a care in the world for such things as physics, taking this duel with her host neighbour super seriously while furniture exploded into the little pieces at the slightest touch. The determination to make things look as cool as possible was much appreciated!
This is a pretty straightforward show, there isn’t a lot of substance to be had, so it has to be pretty OTT with its presentation, and it does deliver on the visuals. I love the pretty, bishie character designs (I did say I was shallow) and the stylised shoot-out (hello bullet time) – this is probably one of the better looking shows Brains Base have turned out in recent seasons.
So yeah, I had fun with this opening episode – there isn’t much substance, but I enjoyed the pretty fluff so I’m keeping it on.
Hetalia is back again and this time the countries are cats. Nothing else has really changed, if you’ve seen any of Hetalia you know what to expect. I did like the references to Germany being the only one holding together the Eurozone at the moment – Hetalia can be quite clever with current politics occasionally.
I’ll be watching more until I get bored – not like it takes up much time each week!
Okay, last show in this batch of impressions – the latest Jun Maeda x PA Works offering, and again this was a pretty fun opening episode! I like the scumbag main character a lot – he has this cool eye-power that allows him to possess people for a short time, and just abuses the hell out of it to cheat his way through tests and punch people who irritate him. Brilliant. There is so much entertainment to be had watching a character who is so unrepentant about how he is cheating his way through life and delights in manipulating people, get called out on his shit and watch his plans fall apart before his eyes. So yeah this first episode was pretty fun to watch.
I kind of like the setting and characters we’ve seen so far and the show is certainly pretty enough visually (if slightly lacking in PA Works’ usual scenery porn), but I’m hyper aware of how Jun Maeda shows usually go. We’ll get all this fun comedy with interesting elements & characters, and then suddenly the Feels Train will plough into town and everything will turn into a sappy melodramatic mess that leaves me angry and swearing off Maeda’s rubbish for life.
I’m watching another episode…….I can’t seem to help myself.
First batch of first impressions down – more tomorrow!