Thursday, July 25, 2013

Summer 2013: What I'm Watching (Part 2)

The second part of my Summer 2013 overview is here. Plenty of sequels are among them, so be sure to check out my Sequel Alert to see what you should watch before diving into these shows.

I must say, I am overall very pleased with this season. Sure, that might be partially because there's a lot of shows that are particularly of my taste, but even discounting all of the "same ol'" that some may complain about, there's plenty to love about this season. And if you really think this season's got nothing for you... well, Attack on Titan is still airing, right? By the way, I'm not following that one, but I do plan on marathoning the second half once all episodes have been aired.

That said, the rest of what I'm following this season is after the jump.

Monogatari Second Season
They're back, and faced with new apparitions.
Sequel Alert: This is the continuation of the story from Bakemonogatari and Nisemonogatari. As a direct sequel, it pretty much requires having seen those two first. The show opens with the Nekomonogatari (White)story, which focuses on Tsubasa Hanekawa. As for whether it is necessary to have seen the Nekomonogatari (Black) specials beforehand, I’d say to at least watch one episode of Black before watching episode one of White, and then alternating between Black and White from there (at least, that’s what I’m doing and I do not feel like I’m missing anything).
And really, for the show itself, all I really need to say is that it continues on from the other Monogatari series, and maintains a level of quality consistent with them—which, for me, means this show has been amazing so far.
This show (along with Nekomonogatari (Black)) is available for streaming on Daisuki.
Ro-Kyu-Bu! SS
Basketball stars start at a young age.
Sequel Alert: This is a direct sequel to the first season of Ro-Kyu-Bu! Fast Break. Watching this without having watched the first season is not recommended.
That said, the first season of this series about a high school boy who ends up coaching an elementary school girls’ basketball club is, admittedly, hard to watch. On one hand, the show definitely goes into creepy lolicon territory with some (otherwise mild) fanservice of the girls and plenty of awkward situations it puts the male lead into with them. It doesn't get too bad and it’s really just played up for laughs, except rather than make me laugh, it just makes me uncomfortable. (Though I’m less uncomfortable about the romantic inclinations between coach Subaru and “main girl” Tomoka, as the age difference between the two is only about 4 years, so… eh.) And the first episode of the second season does go into that territory, unfortunately.
However, there’s also the basketball aspect of this show, which was fantastic in the first season, and remains such in the second episode of the new season, where we are introduced to a new team of five girls to face up to the old team. The result is a show I'm somewhat conflicted on; I have to be mindful of the bad while focusing on the good here, and the basketball really is good here; the strategies used are great and well-tailored to the characters, and there's also some good character development involved along the way. But well, if it wasn't that good, I would have never finished the first season.
I don’t know how honest of a recommendation I could give for this show; it depends on what you can take from “watch it for the basketball, and try to ignore the creepy lolicon stuff”. It’s really too bad, because there’s a great basketball story here, but because the creators felt the need to add in all the lolicon stuff for whatever reason, a lot of people are going to be turned off to it.
But, well, I’m watching it, because the basketball is good enough that I can look past the more unsavory aspects of the show.
The first season is available on Hulu and The Anime Network; however, the second season is currently unavailable for legal streaming anywhere. Again, please do not ask where to find episodes of this show.
Rozen Maiden
Playing with dolls has never been so deadly.
Specifically, Rozen Maiden: Zurückspulen. A reboot of the original Rozen Maiden manga, the story goes as such: Jun Sakurada, a middle schooler who’s shut himself in his room for being bullied, receives a mysterious note asking him “Will you wind” or “Will you not wind”. He responds that he will wind, and the sentient doll Shinku arrives in his room, and from there he is dragged into the Alice Game where Shinku and six other dolls must compete to be the last doll standing. Facing a dire situation against the seventh doll Kirakishou, Jun and Shinku seek help from the most unusual of places: an alternate universe where Jun chose not to wind, and is living life as a depressed college student.
Sequel Alert: There is no strict need to have seen the previous Rozen Maiden anime renditions, as not only do they diverge from the manga (which this current rendition is based on), but the first episode of this series does recap things to let you know what’s going on here.
It’s a pretty messy and rushed recap, admittedly, but it serves its purpose, and from there, the story moves to focus on college-age “no-wind” Jun, and his encounter with Shinku and the other Jun. From here, this series becomes much more interesting, as we see what this older Jun goes through, and how this new encounter changes things for him.
Servant x Service

Alternate title: Not Always Right/Working: The Animation
Yamagami (whose given name is… really something) is a woman who is beginning a job as a civil servant in the public service office’s health and welfare office. Working alongside her are Saya Miyoshi, who’s rather shy and attracts talkative old ladies, and Yutaka Hasebe, who would rather just slack off and flirt and likes teasing Yamagami. Accompanied by other workers and customers of various temperaments, they get a taste of what the working life is really like.
This comes from the same creator of Working! (Wagnaria! as it is known in the U.S.), but instead of being about high schoolers working part-time, it’s about adults working full-time. So, at the very least, this is definitely not another “high school comedy” series. Comparisons to The Office are not unwarranted, and the series does like making sure the coworkers (especially Hasebe) and customers aren’t all pleasant people to be more reflective of a real working environment. Still, expect lots of fun comedy and perhaps a moment or two where even that annoying co-worker shows some compassion.
Silver Spoon

The part of Harvest Moon you never had to worry about.
Hachiken figures he’ll excel in any school, so why not an agricultural school? Surely the presence of a bunch of stinky animals and their bodily by-products won’t make him regret such a choice, right?
This may be from the creator of Fullmetal Alchemist, but it’s clearly a different work entirely, being more slice of life and being more… well, agricultural. In fact, it seems very much like Arakawa-sensei is drawing upon her own experience in the world of agriculture to present something as much like life at an agriculture school, right down to the nitty-gritty.
And this is why I love this show so much: I feel as if I’m immersed into life at the agricultural school myself. (Though thankfully, without the smells.) As someone just as foreign to this type of life as Hachiken is, I can laugh at his overblown reactions to things like finding out just exactly where eggs come from, and enjoy watching him slowly come to adjust to life in this new environment. (On that note, I think for those already familiar with agricultural life, the experience might be different, though no less amusing.)
Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3

Cute girls doing... not so cute things.
Yura imagined she’d have a wonderful new life at a high-class women’s academy, but her shyness keeps her from actually making friends. When she crosses paths with the academy’s Airsoft club, she finds herself in a world of mock gunfights that is quite different from anything she knows. Would joining this club perhaps allow her to finally break out of her shell?
Following the success of Girls und Panzer, this show has a similar theme of girls engaging in mock military combat, this time thanks to the non-lethal Airsoft guns. The combat portions are fun to watch, especially as Yura starts imagining them as real combat scenarios, but there is also surprisingly strong characterization in this show, mostly with Yura and how she deals with her shy nature now that pellet guns are ringing around her. All in all, it’s another show that looks like it could become one of my favorites of this season.
Tamayura ~more aggressive~
An infinitely better photography show than last season's Photo Kano.

Sequel alert: This is the sequel to the Tamayura series, which started out with a couple of OVA’s which were then followed by the first TV series, Tamayura ~hitotose~. While the nature of the show means that you might be able to watch it without having seen these previous parts, I would recommend watching them first, as only then will you get the full meaning behind what happens here.
It’s been a year since Fuu Sawatari moved to her late father’s hometown, and during this time, with the help of her friends, she has been able to grow through her hobby of photography. Now, feeling it is time to be more aggressive (mentally), she decides to start a photography club so she can share her love of photos with others. Meanwhile, another camera-wielding girl watches her from the background…
While this could be considered cute-girls-doing-cute-things show #4, there’s a different feel to this show compared to the others. Directed by Junichi Sato, who also directed the Aria anime series (currently my favorite anime of all time), this is a show of the “healing” or iyashikei sub-genre. That means that, rather than focusing on comedic hijinks (though there’s still plenty of comedy), the show focuses more on a relaxing atmosphere and an appreciation for the little things in life, as well as gentle character growth and an appreciation for friendship. It all comes together to create a show that is truly beautiful, and the second season has only continued in bringing out that beauty, along with hopes that it will only get better from here.
This was my most anticipated show of the season going in, and right now it is neck-and-neck with Kin-iro Mosaic for best show of the season. Truly an amazing show… such a pity no one has been able to get it for legal streaming.
Unfortunately, this show is unavailable for legal streaming anywhere. Again, please do not ask me where to find episodes of this show. I will edit in a link here if it does become available. And if any North American anime companies are reading this… please license this show!
WataMote: No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular!

A not-so-cute girl trying to do cute things.
Tomoko Kuroki imagined she’d have a wonderful new life at high school where she’d be super-popular and have a boyfriend; after all, isn’t that what happens in her games? Alas, reality is a very cruel mistress as her crippling social anxiety and overall distrust for others throws her into a downward spiral as her attempts at becoming popular only send her deeper into depression and isolation.
…yeah, this is not exactly a comfortable show to watch. Especially if there’s any way you can relate to Tomoko. She’s not exactly a pleasant person; after all, she has a very distorted view of what others are like and can be quite mean to the people closest to her, like her younger brother. It’s definitely got that Cringe Comedy aspect, as you can’t help but laugh at some of Tomoko’s failed attempts at popularity or whatnot. And just to make it all even more disconcerting, Izumi Nitta’s performance as Tomoko is so spot-on that it’ll just drive home her despair and desperation that much more.
One thing’s for sure, though; it’s different. And if you’re tired of the same ol’ high school rom-com or cute-girls-doing-cute-things show, well, here’s something that’s very much not like that. It’s definitely intriguing, and while the direction this show goes in from here can either lead it to being a masterpiece or lead it to ruin, for now it’s worth seeing just where things will go from here, however uncomfortable it might be.
The World God Only Knows: Goddesses

It's time for Heaven and (New) Hell to join forces.
Sequel Alert: Oh dear… this isn’t just a sequel to the second season of The World God Only Knows. This is the show adapting an arc that takes place over 100 chapters after the second season, going by the manga. Needless to say, a lot of stuff gets skipped. That said, before you panic and go looking up the skipped chapters, the first episode of this adaptation does give enough of an overall recap of things that as long as you’ve seen the first two seasons (and maybe the “Tenri” OVAs), you should be able to jump right in here just fine.
Keima Katsuragi is known as god of the world of dating sims and visual novels. Ever since Elsie, a demon from New Hell came along and brought with her a mission to capture loose souls residing in real-life girls, Keima has directed his skills at capturing the hearts of 2-D girls to the 3-D realm, and has a large number of conquests to his name. However, a couple of things now provide a whole new challenge for him. First of all, while the girls were supposed to have forgotten their conquest after Keima successfully released the loose souls within them, goddesses from Heaven have found residence in some of those girls, meaning they still remember everything that happened. And what’s worse, a cult of demons called Vintage are out, trying to revive the truly-demonic Old Hell, and are going after the goddesses… In order to find the goddesses before Vintage does, Keima must once again capture the hearts of those girls, and this time, much more is at stake.
Ah, The World God Only Knows. It’s definitely a very quirky series, being a homage to dating sims and visual novels with a supernatural plot that conveniently forces the main character to attempt to marry his game knowledge with that of the real world. The result is something that is quite different from anything else out there, while still being strangely familiar, and despite having watched and enjoyed both previous seasons (as well as having read through much of the manga, including everything up to this arc), I still cannot quite describe just what this show is really like or why I like it so much.
One thing, though, is that there’s definitely a change in tone in how this arc is playing out, thanks to the presence of Vintage and events that start threatening the lives of those Keima knows. It’s interesting in and of itself to see Keima so concerned about the people around him, whereas before he only cared about the girls inside his game. There’s still plenty of fun and comedy as Keima attempts once again to adapt dating sim strategy to his new conquest mission, and all in all, this will definitely be something that fans of this series won’t want to miss.
This show (plus seasons 1 and 2) is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.


Check out my (new) My Anime List profile to see everything I'm watching this season and how much I'm liking each one. You can also see all the other anime series I've watched (excluding movies and OVA series at the moment) so far.

1 comment:

  1. Too bad about the uncomfortable bits in Ryo-Ku-Bu. I like sports anime, but after watching PapaKiki, I know that my tolerance for lolicon stuff is pretty low, so it's probably not worth it for me.

    Servant x Service and Working! are by the same creator? I'm so glad you mentioned that! I have to watch S x S now. ^_^

    Watamote is uncomfortable to watch, for sure. I usually bolt when I realize a show will have a lot of awkward, embarrassing moments. But this time, I'm sticking it through. I've found that I can handle more of that stuff in anime than I can in live action.