Summer 2013 Anime Season: First Impressions (Part I)

Blood Lad - 03  Free - 03  Inu To Hasami Wa Tsukaiyou - 01Makai Ouji Devils and Realist - 04  Senki Zesshou Symphogear G - 05  Uchouten Kazoku - 01
Another day, another anime season… It feels like just yesterday that I wrote up my final impressions for the spring 2013 anime season, and now, here we are, already three weeks into summer! There are plenty of show that I’ve been sampling (13 in total!), but which ones hold up to the 3 episode test? Read on to find out my first impressions!

Blood Lad

Blood Lad - 02Blood Lad - 01

As one of the manga adaptations that I’ve been reading this season, I was happily anticipating the arrival of Blood Lad… and it’s been fun so far! Animation is crisp with some style and borrows from the manga with the use of sound effects written into some scenes. Episode 2 have a nice mix of comedy and drama, as Fuyumi returns to the human world to find that Staz can manipulate the memories of humans using a spray bottle full of his spit so that it seems like she was never absent prompting Fuyumi to question whether she really exists or not.

But, the show is really mostly about the comedy, as the vampire Staz seeks a way to bring the amply endowed Fuyumi (eaten by a carnivorous plant) back to life. The storyline is progressing quickly, and it’s fun to see Staz’s reactions to the human world, his obsession over games and anime, and his attempts to dress like a human. I’m also enjoying the cast of characters, though Bell is a bit annoying.

So far there’s been a new character introduced each week, which helps keep the story and gags more fresh… I hope that this pace continues and stays consistent throughout the series, because if executed poorly, I can see this show easily disintegrating into recycled jokes with a dragging plot.

First impressions: Fun and bouncy!

Verdict: Hope it doesn’t need its own resurrection later…

Free!

Free - 02Free - 01

Scantily clad pretty boys getting wet in the pool? Okay! Sign. Me. Up.

At least that was my reaction after episode 3… But, backtracking a bit, before this series aired, I honestly had no idea what to expect with Free! and, like everyone else, I witnessed the strange flurry of criticisms and debate that emerged after the series was announced. However, I loved K-On (also by KyoAni) and am partial to pretty boys, so I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt.

The first episode was honestly pretty awkward to watch, if only because I am so used to seeing female characters act and exhibit themselves in such a fan service-y way, that it was a bit strange to see males doing the same thing… Hair flips, lingering lower body shots, swimsuit shots, sparkly eyes, thinking in the bathtub: you name it, the cast of Free! did it all!

So, what turned the show around for me from awkward to fun? Well, basically I got over the fact that the way they act is so stereotypically “female”, and I learned to be just like Gou (“not Gou! Kou!” – our lovely stand-in for the audience) and relish in the sight of gorgeous triceps. I am enjoying the animation, the music, and the way the show makes fun of itself (intentionally or not!), whether it’s Haru’s hair flips or Rei’s “you’d better take responsibility!” Oh, and the plot? Um, it’s something about swimming and friendship – but honestly, I’m treating this show like a male version of K-On (Rule 63!), so I’m not too focused on the storyline.

First impressions: Awkward interest turning to lingering fascination.

Verdict: Get over it and enjoy the show!

Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyou

Inu To Hasami Wa Tsukaiyou - 03Inu To Hasami Wa Tsukaiyou - 02

The first episode was zippy and fun, with an entertaining and refreshing main character (Harumi Kazuhito) so completely obsessed with books that he refuses to die when he his fatally shot one day…. that he ends up in the body of a dog. Throw in his favourite author, Akiyama Shinobu (real name: Natsuno Kirihime), a sadistic, sarcastic, scissor-wielding writer that can hear our dog MC’s thoughts, it’s comedy gold, right?

Well, not exactly. Unfortunately, the show falls pretty flat after the intriguing first episode, and descends into some strange crime solving mystery show where every crime is related to Kirihime’s series of books about the seven deadly sins. The ridiculous fight scene with the guy who killed Kazuhito made me grimace because it was just so silly. And then, Kirihime is suddenly all ditzy, and claiming to love Kazuhito… add in her masochistic editor and the overly annoying “shining” idol/writer and I was pushed to the edge of my tolerance levels.

I was really hoping for a more slice-of-life comedy anime where Kirihime and Kazuhito have quippy conversations, he deals with the fallout of being a dog, and she tries to write the final book in her unfinished series. Maybe a bit of backstory about why she can’t write, maybe some scenes with Kazuhito learning to relate better with others, and I would have been interested! Instead, I’m really not too fond of any of the characters in this series, I don’t find the comedy very funny, and the plot is not nearly compelling enough for me to care.

First impressions: Good prologue, inconsistent and annoying main story.

Verdict: I’ll be throwing the book at this one.

Makai Ouji: Devils and Realist

Makai Ouji Devils and Realist - 02Makai Ouji Devils and Realist - 01

Honestly, this anime is pretty boring. I am not at all interested in the whole set of William being one person who can elect the interim leader of hell, and the trials that await him as devils and humans alike seek him out to alternatively petition or kill him. And, the way things are going, it seems like all of the devils that made made contact with Solomon will end up going to, or working at William’s school.

Actually, my synopsis doesn’t sound half bad, but unfortunately it’s not executed very well, with its “monster of the week” feel and mostly annoying characters. Especially William. For a guy that claims to be a “realist”, he is totally incapable of accepting any of the very real demons and displays of magic that are suddenly all around him. How many times does he have to get knocked around by Dantalion, get in fights with demons, and witness undeniable instances of the “occult” before he accepts reality? The denial was cute for the first couple of episodes, but by the third episode, I was tired of it.

The animation looks good at first glance, but I find it pretty inconsistent with a lot of the characters looking radically different depending on the scene. Needless to day, I won’t be continuing on with this series.

First impressions: Unlike William, I’m not in denial about this show.

Verdict: I’m a realist! I don’t think this one will be getting any better….

Senki Zesshou Symphogear G

Senki Zesshou Symphogear G - 04Senki Zesshou Symphogear G - 03

Cautiously optimistic would be the words I would use to describe my feelings before this show opened…. But I can say pretty confidently that if you like over the top action, super powered fight scenes, transformation scenes, fun fan service, and a storyline that doesn’t have to always make sense, then Symphogear is for you! It feels exactly like the first season, and while I don’t think this series will be breaking any new ground, it should be an amusing ride.

This season, Hibiki, Tsubasa, and Chris are back…. and, just as the first season, the main enemy is not the mysterious Noise, but fellow humans instead. There’s nothing too complicated about the plot or the characters, but it doesn’t matter because Symphogear is all about taking it to the next level of insanity with crazy power-ups and out there attacks. I mean, one of the girls has two pizza cutters/rotary saws on her head as her weapon, and two of Chris’ attacks are named “Giga Zepplin” and “Billion Maiden”. This is a show where I basically shut off a part of my brain, and just sit back and enjoy the ride.

First impressions: Suspension of belief activated. Here we go again!

Verdict: Just going along for the ride!

Uchouten Kazoku

Uchouten Kazoku - 03Uchouten Kazoku - 02

Stylish and wonderfully animated, Uchouten Kazoku is, at first glance, a show where the visuals are a real feast for the eyes, with beautifully imaginative and fantastical landscapes placed side by side the everyday scenery of modern day Kyoto. I am simply loving how developed this alternate reality of Kyoto is, with its shape-shifting racoon-dogs and flying tengu… It’s got it’s own lore, culture, factions, and traditions, which gives plenty of added depth to the series.

In addition to looking good, I am also enjoying the story as well, which has not been at forefront of the anime quite yet, but has been gradually explained through flashbacks and dialogue. The main conflict seems to involve the dangerously lovely human, Benten, and her connection to Yasaburou’s father being killed, cooked, and eaten by the mysterious “Friday Club”.

There’s plenty of comedy and drama mixed into the slice-of-life pace, and I am really liking all of the characters. I can’t wait to see where this series will take me next…

First impressions: Imaginative, compelling, and beautiful animation and storytelling.

Verdict: What’s going to happen next!?

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4 thoughts on “Summer 2013 Anime Season: First Impressions (Part I)

  1. It’s up for debate of course, but I’m pretty sure Free! does indeed make fun of itself intentionally. This is KyoAni we’re talking about – they practically helped invent moe, and the entire concept of this series started off as a fandom in-joke in the first place. I see the show as being a lighthearted parody as well as (or even more than) a sports anime, which I think is quite important for viewers to keep in mind. Take a show like this too seriously and that’s nearly all the entertainment value lost.
    I’m with you on Makai Ouji: Devils and Realist. Promising storyline, crap execution (and annoying characters to boot). It’s disappointing, but I promptly gave this one up after the first 2 episodes. Luckily, we’re definitely not starved for comedy this season.

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    • Yes, I really agree that Free! is intentionally making fun of itself. Just look at Gou (Kou!)’s sparkly reactions to all those lovely triceps… I’m really watching this show as if it was a male version of K-On!, and treating the sports aspect of it as merely a backdrop to all the comedy and chiselled abs (just as music was treated in K-On!).

      And, as for Makai Ouji: Devils and Realist, you made the right choice on stopping at episode 2. Episode 3 wasn’t any better, and was really a waste of time. 😦

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