Monday, May 4, 2015

Spring 2015: What I'm Watching (Part 1)

If you've been following my "The Anime-zing Race" series of posts, you know what shows will be on here already. If this is your first time seeing one of these posts, this is my seasonal rundown of all the shows I'm watching, with some background information, whether the show is a sequel to anything you should watch first, what I think of them so far, and where the show is available for legal streaming.

Here are the shows covered in this first part. Later on, I'll add links such that clicking on each show will jump you straight to that show's entry, but for now I'd just like to get this out as soon as possible.

Baby Steps Season 2
Food Wars - Shokugeki no Souma
Hello! Kinmoza
Mikagura School Suite
My love Story!!
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO!
Re-Kan!




Baby Steps Season 2

In other news, Japan has lately made more of a mark in the real tennis world.

Sequel Alert: This is a direct sequel to the first season of Baby Steps. If you're interested in this show, definitely watch that first.

Baby Steps is a very different sort of sports anime. This show prefers a much more methodical approach to how a sports anime protagonist develops: through the slow and steady development of his skills through training and matches, where both wins and losses are important. This natural development might not have the usual excitement of sports anime, but it feels very real, and makes for a very different sort of engaging story. Add on an equally naturally-paced development of the relationship between Eiichiro and Natsu, and you have a show full of charm. Try it out if you want something different from your sports anime.

Both seasons of Baby Steps are streaming on Crunchyroll.

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Food Wars - Shokugeki no Souma

MasterChef just got a bit more lewd.

Souma Yukihira works at his family diner and aspire to overtake his father's culinary skills and take over the restaurant one day. However, his father leaves to tour the world and shuts down the restaurant, leaving Souma on his own... to attend the nation's toughest culinary school, where only 10% of the students graduate. In order to prove his worth to his father, he enters a brutal battlefield where food is the weapon of choice.

Coming off the culinary wonder that is Gourmet Girl Graffiti, I'm in the mood for another anime about food. This time around, though, we have a shounen battle series, focusing more on crazy antics and the actual cooking of food. It's a different beast from Graffiti, and while not as top-tier, is enjoyable in its own way. The characters are fun, the food looks amazing, and the characters' reactions to food... well, let's just say that they make Graffiti's "sensual" eating scenes seem downright tame. This show definitely has a good amount of fanservice as it brings a literal interpretation of "foodgasm", and it might be a bit too much for some viewers, but if you're okay with it, this show is quite the ride. (And for the record, the fanservice is equal opportunity, so expect the guys to get naked as much as the girls.)

Food Wars - Shokugeki no Souma is streaming on Crunchyroll.

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Hello! Kinmoza
Japanese title: Hello! Kin-iro Mosaic

Because cuteness is a universal language.

Sequel Alert: This is a direct sequel to the first season of Kinmoza! Kin-iro Mosaic. While the nature of the show makes it easier to jump right in, the show does build off established character personalities and relationships from the first season, so it is highly recommended you watch that first.

Kiniro Mosaic is a great example of a cute-girls-doing-cute-things show done right. With a fun cast of characters and some great comedy, it's a show that's a joy to watch, plain and simple. What helps this show stand out is its theme, which goes a bit further than just the cross-cultural interactions between the Japanese and British girls and explores all sorts of barriers toward communication and understanding one another. This season explores that theme even further, as it introduces a new character, a teacher, and overall gives the cast more interaction with the side characters and trying to get to know them better. It's things like this that elevate a standard, enjoyable cute girls show to being one of my favorites.

Both seasons of Kinmoza are streaming on Crunchyroll.

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Mikagura School Suite
Japanese title: Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku

When supernatural battles became musical.

Eruna Ichinomiya wants nothing more than to go to school surrounded by the prettiest and cutest girls around, so when she sees that one particular stunning beauty attends the prestigious Mikagura Private School, she immediately signs up... only to find that there, clubs battle each other with superpowers for ranks, privileges, and life's conveniences. If Eruna wants to live her ideal school life, she's going to have to fight for it!

This show is actually based on a series of Vocaloid songs, like last year's Mekakucity Actors. This time, it features a series of battles and wacky lesbian at the center of it all. It's crazy, it's fun, and at moments it shows just a bit of depth. It might be far from my favorite show this season (it's currently in the back of the pack of The Anime-zing Race), but I'm definitely looking forward to more from it for now. (Especially that twintail girl; I need to know who that twintail girl is.)

Mikagura School Suite is streaming on Funimation.

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My love Story!!
Japanese title: Ore Monogatari!!

A shoujo Beauty and the Beast.

Takeo Gouda is big in both heart and stature, which makes him popular with the guys... but girls are generally more interested in his handsome best friend, Makoto Sunakawa. However, one day, when he saves Rinko Yamato from a train molester, Rinko seems to become quite interested in him. Is she just trying to get closer to his friend like the other girls, or could she actually be the one to start off Takeo's own love story?

And here is this season's shoujo show, which is both a classic shoujo romance and... not a classic shoujo romance. Its focus character is a guy, and not the standard bishounen guy, either. And for all that the initial episodes play out like your standard misunderstanding-fueled romantic drama, the show soon discards all that to instead focus, for once, on the actual romantic relationship itself. It's a show making a lot of bold moves in a place that's arguably too stuck in its comfort zone. And it's certainly not like this show is uncomfortable, because if anything it's an extremely comforting show, featuring good-natured protagonists and an overwhelming amount of raw romantic charm. All this is pointing to a show that could very well join the likes of Fruits Basket and Lovely Complex as among the absolute top-tier shoujo romances animated.

My love Story!! is streaming on Crunchyroll.

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My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO!
Japanese title: Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy ga Machigatteiru. Zoku

Because sometimes, the only way through high school is making a mess of it along the way.

Sequel Alert: This is a direct sequel to the first season of My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, so watch that first.

If I could point to one thing that makes this show, often referred to as Oregairu, as great as it is, it would be character depth. The characters in this show are some of the most well-crafted ones, with very complex motivations and actions that fit those motivations, and who subtly change as their actions cause consequences around them. The result of these characters acting true to their messed-up selves is a romantic comedy gone wrong (hence the Japanese title, which is literally "my teen romantic comedy is wrong as I expected"), with its own share of funny moments, as well as some strikingly poignant monologues from male lead Hachiman about various aspects of society. Studio feel. is taking the helms for this second season after Brains Base did the first, and they are doing a fantastic job as everything in this show is only improving on everything the first season did well.

Both seasons of My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU are streaming on Crunchyroll.

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Re-Kan!

Sometimes, the best friends in your life are those in the next life.

Re-Kan! is a slice-of-life comedy about Hibiki Amami, who can see the spirits of the dead, and her daily life as she interacts with both those spirits and her living friends.

Shows that meld slice-of-life with the spirit world aren't that uncommon, and this entry is pretty standard, with a decent cast and plenty of fun with how the less spiritually-inclined react to the craziness the spirits' interactions with Hibiki. And with a subject matter like the spirits of the deceased, expect some heart to this show, too. Overall, it's a pleasant show, and while far from being among the best of its kind, it is still an enjoyable watch for me.

Re-Kan! is streaming on Crunchyroll.

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