In which we rejoin our regularly scheduled anime season already in progress.
Just wanted to take the time here to note that tomorrow (July 16) will be Pedantic Perspective’s 2nd birthday. It seems like not so long ago when I was struggling to write posts about Love Lab and Watamote and Sane… actually still wrote things. It’s been a fun two years and I’d like to thank everybody for reading us both old timers and newcomers. Anyway, let’s get ranking:
1. Classroom Crisis (Episodes 1 and 2)
Classroom Crisis is probably the nicest surprise for me this season. I was immediately intrigued by an anime original brought to us by the author of White Album 2. At the same time, my experience with his other work, Saekano, left me cautious about this show. Thankfully, the first two episodes have been very solid. The show starts quickly and drops you right into the world of the Kirishina Corporation and the various factions within it. The show manages to elegantly explain to the viewer what’s going on without info-dumping you to death which is a danger with a show that has a premise like this. The central conflict is between the young prodigies working on R&D within the A-TEC unit of Kirishima and the higher ups with an axe to grind who want to shut them down. What makes this show so promising to me is how character-focused the story they’re going for is. In particular seeing Sera’s ambition for innovation being challenged by the corporate world of budgets and deadlines was very compelling and I look forward to more of his journey.
Nagisa’s position is interesting as well because he kind of straddles the line between the talented but unconnected types like A-TEC and the stodgy, well-connected executives that want to shut them down. Sure he’s the son of one of the founders and got where is he now in large part via his family connections, but he also has a history of being disrespected by his family when he was sent to backwoods outposts rather than getting a cushy job near the home office. He managed to work his way back into the inner circle via his own talent and hard work yet he’s still wrapped up in his brother’s vendetta against A-TEC. The vendetta itself feels like it might also be a family-related conflict as A-TEC was the brainchild of co-founder Shinimiya and it seems that the Kiryuu family is now in control and has run out of patience for the money getting sunk into it.
Beyond the in-universe conflicts, the show seems pretty squarely aimed at Japan’s current business culture and the stagnation created by massive family-controlled corporations that span multiple industries and promise lifetime employment. The stagnation Japan has experienced over the past two decades and the sight of their once proud businesses failing to generate a new generation of innovative products has understandably wounded the country’s pride and Maruto seems to place the blame on companies that put family ties and budget constraints ahead of trying new ideas and not being afraid to fail in the name of innovation. The point is there’s a ton going on here (I might end up blogging this weekly) and I am definitely looking forward to where they go with all of it.
2. Charlotte (Episode 2)
I already recapped episode one and episode two of Charlotte was much the same. There’s still a definite familiarity to the show. The humor is reminiscent of Angel Beats’ style and Yuu’s younger sister Ayumi shares a lot of mannerisms with Kud from Little Busters. The central premise also pulls strongly from Rewrite’s world with super powered youngsters. But despite all of these similarities, Charlotte carves its own niche and doesn’t necessarily feel completely same-y. The show is helped a lot by a stand-out performance by Sakura Ayane as Tomori Nao. Nao’s another sort of familiar character as her take-charge attitude and tragic past remind me of Yurippe from Angel Beats (although to be fair her tragic past could remind you of any KEY heroine). The story of Nao’s older brother lends some stakes to the proceedings in Charlotte and gives an idea of where the eventual melodrama may come from. Aside from that subplot, I really liked seeing the trio of Nao, Yuu and Joujirou working together to catch other special ability users. The three work really well together and their banter flows nicely and adds some levity to what could have been a pretty downer episode otherwise. People may groan at KEY being KEY but I love the company and will gladly take more of what they’re offering.
3. Non Non Biyori Repeat (Episode 1)
It’s back to the beginning for the first episode of the second season of Non Non as we bear witness to the lead up to Ren-chon’s first day at school. All of the rural atmosphere that made the first season stand out was still there. The local scenery is still beautiful and every part of the town feels very lived-in. This episode also did a great job of evoking the wonder a girl like Renge feels when everything she’s experiencing is new and special. For a show about the simple pleasures of rural life in Japan, this is about the best you can hope for from the second season’s premiere. I’m glad that Non Non Biyori seems to have lost none of its charm in the past eighteen months and I can’t wait for more.
4. Ore Monogatari (Episodes 13 and 14)
Ore Monogatari rumbles on like it always has, full of charm even if it’s light on substance. I wasn’t in love with these two episodes as I never really liked the subplot regarding Sunakawa’s older sister’s feelings for Takeo. It never felt truly genuine to me and so two episodes centered on resolving that were bound to fall flat for me. That said, this was about as good as two episodes about that could have been. There were plenty of cute Takeo/Yamato moments and the scenes that did involve Sunakawa’s sister managed to provide some pretty compelling moments and she struggled with her unrequited love. If you ignore the actual individuals involved, the core concepts regarding feelings you can’t speak and won’t be returned was very nice. Regardless, I’m glad we’re past this and can hopefully move on to something more to my liking.
5. Shimoneta (Episode 2)
I recapped the first episode of this as well and that’s the last time I’m going to write the full title of this monstrosity. The second episode was basically just as much fun as the first which is a good sign for the show’s staying power. The show still has all the irreverence of SYD but enough actual story to keep it from getting stale. I’m not sure how much bite the satire here has given it takes the censorship instinct of Japanese government to an absurd extreme but I don’t think it needs that bite to work as a zany comedy. Shimoneta could still wear out its welcome very quickly but so far so good with this one.
6. Working!!! (Episode 2)
The third season of Working continues to be acceptable but unimpressive, especially compared to the better parts of the first two seasons. The jokes are very hit or miss thus far. There were some nice moments in this episode when Takanashi was without his glasses for a time but overall the episode’s jokes mostly fell flat for me. Yamada is still a joy to watch so if nothing else I’ll stick with Working for her but it seems like the show might have worn out its welcome after two full seasons of this.
7. Overlord (Episode 1)
Now here’s a first episode that I didn’t expect to like nearly as much as I did. I read the first chapter of the manga which this episode covers almost exactly and I thought it was fine but I didn’t love it. The animation and voicing really added a ton of atmosphere to Overlord and allowed it to really evoke the feeling of somebody who’s saying goodbye to a world they spent a lot of time in and had a lot of fond memories of. I feel like the show kind of requires you to have played an MMO serious in order to really empathize with the main character in the first episode but if you have sunk thousands of hours into a virtual world and made many friends and memories there this episode really rings true. I’m afraid it might devolve into standard “trapped in a game” shenanigans going forward but at least the first episode managed to impress me enough to keep watching.
8. Akagami no Shirayuki-hime (Episode 1)
This show is up here almost entirely because of the incomparable Hayami Saori. Her work as Shirayuki got me to pay attention to a show I might have otherwise dismissed. Outside of her outstanding voice work, the show is a functional shoujo medieval fantasy. Female main characters are always a plus and the rest of the cast was likable enough. I more or less enjoyed Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii last year and probably would have liked Akatsuki no Yona well enough if I had stuck with it so maybe Akagami will be able to fill out my watching list this season. It depends on what the other shows on this list do but in a season this thin it has a better shot of sticking than I would have expected.
9. Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu (Episodes 14 and 15)
We’re out of the disappearance arc and it seems like anything compelling about this show disappeared with it. I liked the first half of episode fourteen as it dealt with the trio of Kyon, Asakura and Yuki fully saying goodbye to the “old” Nagato. However, once Haruhi returned and the Nagato subplot went away the show was back to the mediocre slice of life it had been up to that arc. Episode fifteen was an incredibly dull beach episode that relied almost entirely on sex appeal and references to the original series to get by. After a stand out arc it seems like Yuki-chan is going to stumble across the finish line which is unfortunate if not terribly surprising.
10. Gakkou Gurashi (Episode 1)
I knew the twist in Gakkou Gurashi going in (and FYI, if you somehow don’t know, stop reading this and go watch before I spoil you) so the end of this episode didn’t have the impact on me it had on some people. The first twenty-minutes or so were barely functional slice of life nonsense which I did enjoy but it’s really hard for me to not enjoy a show like that. There were some nicely placed hints of what was coming throughout that part of the episode which helped keep things interesting. I’m not sure who the show is really targeted at though since people who are interested in the zombie invasion portion of the plot probably couldn’t endure the first twenty minutes of the episode and anybody who did enjoy the first twenty minutes probably doesn’t like zombies in their cute girl anime. I’ll keep watching for at least one episode to see what they do with this but I’m not particularly impressed after one episode.
11. Jokumachi no Dandelion (Episode 1)
Here’s a show I feel like I should have liked more than I did. It’s a Manga Time Kirara (the magazine that gave us K-ON) adaptation which is an immediate plus for me and it’s script comes from Yoshida Reiko who has written for some of my favorite anime of all time including K-ON. The story isn’t exactly your typical Manga Time Kirara fare – it has male characters for one thing – and I just didn’t feel that entranced by the first episode’s writing. The middle part felt like it was mostly info-dumping the character’s special powers and the repeated panty jokes weren’t something I particularly liked. Still, Akane is incredibly moe and the show did have flashes of possibly turning into a really sweet family comedy/drama. The show’s credentials and that potential for a sweet, family story will keep me watching but I hope it shows me something sooner rather than later.
12. HIMOUTO Umaru-chan (Episode 1)
Well this is a very silly show. I wasn’t really expecting to watch HIMOUTO before the season started and I feel like it’ll get dropped sooner rather than later but for one week at least it was kind of fun. Umaru is a terrible human being but the show manages to get some decent comedic mileage out of her terribleness. I don’t think the show can sustain itself with “Umaru is terrible” as its only joke and it probably would have benefitted from being a short rather than a full length show but at least the first episode was enjoyable. That has to count for something, right?
In addition to the above shows I also saw the first episodes of Gangsta, Jistu wa Watshi wa, Kuusen Madoushi, Monster Musume, Prison School and Sore ga Seiyuu. Gangsta is fine if you’re into gritty street violence but that’s not at all my thing. The other ones are bad and should not be watched by anybody. (Although it’s likely that PumpkinMochi will manage to con me into watching all of Monster Musume for our seasonal “Pedantic Perspective Watches” feature. You can check out our episode one commentary here)