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Hey Spitz, What’ve You Been Watching? June 2016

July 9, 2016

(This article will be pure, unadulterated, spoiler-free goodness.)

やれやれ。The last few months have been a mess, but I’ve finally put aside some time to talk about some dang anime. Where the Summer anime season has already begun, I have been playing catch-up for the past couple weeks, and have only just today finished up the straggling series clogging up my queue (I mean that in the nicest way possible by the way).
Here are the Spring series I watched:

 

usakameUsakame-
Join Nishiaraidashi Nishi and her three tennis-playing friends, Ayako, Kurumi and Kinako as they mull about the club room, partake in high-pulse business and find joy in life on and off the court in this spin-off of Teekyuu.

What I thought- “Sharply paced to a fault.”
I didn’t know until after picking up this series that it was an offshoot of Teekyuu (having only dabbled in that particular series in the past), and a mere few episodes in, the pedigree became quite obvious.
The episode run time is a little longer (compared to other series of shorts), but the dialogue and character actions are at such a pace that it’s tough for any of it to really sink in by the time the episode is over.
The art has a pleasing almost watercolor look to it, but the animation is practically non-existent, and the characters dive on and off of the screen in such a sporadic way that I’d be ill-fit to name one of them, or even offer an associating character trait to one.
I come into series of shorts for injections of cheer or personality, and I just didn’t get that from this series.
It is undoubtedly bright and cheerful, Usakame’s absurdly brisk pace diminishes any sort of staying power it might have otherwise had.

 

0e1f695c5f3d9629d4b6b4b2cf93729f1460330137_fullWagamama High Spec-
At the all-girls Ousui High, Student Council member Narumi Kouki sticks out like a sore thumb, being male.
His skills as a manga author are of little concern however, as he is rarely seen in the Student Council room, instead leaving the day by day tasks to the other members, his sister Narumi among them.
While his presence is sorely missed, the girls do their best to stay in bright spirits among themselves.

What I thought- “Fine while it lasted.”
From one series of shorts to another, Wagamama High Spec someone manages to bring more charm and at a shorter run time.
The art style and character designs are both great, and while the characters moe interactions with one another didn’t leave a lasting impression, they were cheerful enough to warrant the mere couple of minutes the series asked to be viewed each week.
If there were an uncomfortable aspect to this series, it would be the small segment following the series ED, which at the start of the series introduced you to the various characters, but later on became nothing more than an advertisement for a phone game. (Gross.)
 It wasn’t one of the more memorable slice of life shorts series I’ve watched, but Wagamama High Spec brought a small bubble of bright moe personality to the week.

 

78914lBakuon!!-
Sakura Hane is new at Okanoue High, a school noted for allowing its students to drive motorbikes to school.
It isn’t long before she crosses path with the frizzy-haired Amano Onsa and the fiery Suzuki devotee Suzunoki Rin, and as they shortly thereafter seek to start a Bike Club at Okanoue High, Hane finds herself surrounded by motorbike culture, as well as a number of eccentric new faces.

What I thought- “A spotlight on bike culture accompanied by absurd fan service.”
Moe is a brush with a wide-reaching arc. One season might bring charming anthropomorphic warship ladies, while another will have high school girls furiously rip on electric instruments like lifelong devotees to the craft.
The Spring series continues the idea of taking an idea or subculture and slathering moe atop it with this with bike culture.
And it… kind of works. Much like series such as Yama no Susume which depicts both the highs and lows of a hobby, Bakuon!! embraces the devotion and fandom of bike culture while at the same time showing that this devotion is often taken too far.
The characters are likable and their interactions, especially those between the frizzy haired Onsa and Suzuki fangirl Rin, are entertaining.
It looks fine and sounds quite good, and the fan-service may go overboard in a few instances, but Bakuon!! was fun to watch through, and I’d be into the idea of seeing more of it in the future.
High RPMs and high tempers flare in Bakuon!!, a series which ended up better than its premise might lead one to believe.

 

79073lUchuu Patrol Luluco-
Within the most certainly normal city of Okikubo lives a absolutely assuredly normal middle school girl named Luluco, who desires nothing more than to lead a steadfastly normal existence.
The veil inevitably lifts however, as a freak accident on an otherwise normal morning leaves Luluco’s father, a member of the Space Patrol, encased in ice.
The unending desire of upholding galactic justice pulses through Luluco’s body whether she wants to admit it or not, and upon her delivery of her father to Space Patrol HQ, she is thrust into his previous role.
Will Luluco ever live another normal day?

What I thought- “Not what I expected.”
Like Luluco herself, my spirits fluctuated as this story went on.
It wasn’t especially clear what this series was until more than a few episodes in (though that may be at the fault of my own denseness), and while at a point I was bubbling with excitement at what Uchuu Patrol might turn into, it ended up being something else entirely. What was there at the end wasn’t something I was bummed about having watched, but neither was it what I was hoping it would be, so I suppose I feel a tinge of disappointment with it.
If that is needlessly vague I apologize. To recommend this series, I might say that if you’re a fan of Trigger’s off the wall insanity seen in series such as Kill la Kill, and you are familiar with some of the studio’s other works then you should most certainly check it out.
If this is your first Trigger series however, come the end, you may enjoy the absurdity of the visuals and antics of the characters, but you will likely be left scratching your head, questioning what you just watched.
A Trigger series through and through, Uchuu Patrol Luluco is equal bits lunacy and creativity best enjoyed by fans of the studio’s other work.

 

Mayoiga-720x1062Mayoiga-
There is a peculiar village in a particular forest, or that is the rumor.
In this village, Nanaki Village, it is said one can throw out the shackles of the past and start a new life.
The allure of that promise has brought a group, thirty strong, to gather by bus and seek the village.
Throwing caution to the wind, and presuming their guides can be trusted, the group travels into the night toward where Nanaki Village is purported to exist.
Whether what rests at the end of their journey be terror or salvation, none among them can say. The one certainty however is that no one is prepared for what waits for them.

What I thought- “Horror story.”
To use the word “meandering” would be apt in describing Mayoiga.
I was drawn in early with an excellent opening episode fitted with uncomfortable atmosphere, and as the series went on and on all I could wonder is “when is the big thing going to happen?”, but the problem came when that big thing never came.
It is nicely produced, with some truly wonderful character (and other) designs and each episode is sandwiched between excellent music, but the narrative is dreadfully dull and seemingly underdeveloped, and the character interaction which drives it forward is in many cases insufferable.
As far as I know, this is characterized as a horror story, and while there are happenings which enforce that notion, at no point, save for that first episode, did I feel shocked or even uncomfortable.
Mayoiga is one good idea buried beneath a pile of dead weight characters, some annoying and some entirely pointless, with horror that misses the mark, and a narrative which takes twelve episodes to say something which could have taken one.

 

high-school-fleet-haifuri.44258High School Fleet-
In a Japan which has largely sunk beneath the waves, civilization has thrived atop the water, and no one is admired by young Misaki Akeno than the brave and diligent women of the Blue Mermaids.
With a desire to keep their now ocean-faring civilization safe, Akeno enlists at Yokosuka Girl’s Marine High with hopes of becoming a Blue Mermaid herself.
However, after being assigned to a ship and encountering combat on their very first outing, Misaki Akeno and her fellow classmates under her command are claimed to have mutinied.
The race to clear their names while defending themselves from oncoming assaults is on.

What I thought- “The perfect series for kicking off Summertime.”
Military Moe is basically its own thing at this point, and following in the footsteps of series like Strike Witches and especially Girls und Panzer, High School Fleet brings the cheer of moe, the action of battle and successfully stuffs it around an underlying narrative.
While in concept, the idea of a group of high school girls being in total control of a battle cruiser is notably absurd, the world in which the story takes place explains it as best it can.
Production IMS has done a terrific job with the sights and sounds of naval warfare, and the battle sequences offered the sort of methodical intensity you’d expect.
The character designs are great, and the characters themselves are bright and likable; several with endearing backstories or motivations. (I also especially loved the design and sense of speed given by the jet ski-esque vehicles driven in some episodes.)
This is a series with a specific and clear audience, and I feel it may offer little to those uninterested in cute anime ladies doing cute anime lady things, save for the aforementioned battle sequences, but as someone who resides within that audience, I got much joy out of watching High School Fleet, and was sore to see it go.
A competent action series inhabited by a legion of bright characters, High School Fleet isn’t for everyone, but is well-worth the watch for those it appeals to.

 

79426lKiznaiver-
Agata Katsuhira doesn’t feel much of anything.
His memories are fuzzy, and he has been the target of bullies for some time, thanks to his inability to feel pain making him an effective punching bag.
An encounter with the quiet Sonozaki Noriko puts a spin on his inability to feel harm though, as she kidnaps him and makes him and a number of individuals his age guinea pigs for what she calls the Kizna System.
They are dubbed “Kiznaivers”, and the Kizna System implanted within their bodies causes any pain dealt to one of them to be felt by all of them.
Is this merely a sick test, or is there a purpose behind the pain Katsuhira and his new friends are feeling?

What I thought- “Gripping and stylish.”
In sharp contrast to Uchuu Patrol Luluco, Kiznaiver is a Trigger series largely lacking in any sort of action, and instead focuses more on emotion.
While the Trigger style is front and center, such style in fact that I was asking myself if I were watching a Shaft series during the first few episodes, the main focus of this series is the characters and their interactions, and their growth from the start of the series to the end.
There is a sharpness to the writing and the presentation which drew me into each episode in a way which made them seem over just as they had begun. The plot unfolds with superb pacing and, though not flawless, supplies avenues for the viewer’s opinion on specific characters to change dramatically over the course of the narrative.
I almost passed on Kiznaiver, and was more than pleased with my decision not to.
As far as I’m concerned, Kiznaiver was the show to watch over the Spring season. The characters are relatable, the story is emotionally resonant, and it’s all met in equal measure by Trigger’s slick production style.

 

tumblr_o8dn14TFVo1sgtt6eo1_500Flying Witch-
Humans who can understand cats.
Cafes hidden in plain sight.
Screaming plant life.
While these things may seem strange to some, it’s just another average day to a witch.
Kowata Makoto is one such witch, though the reality is much less maniacal than the stories you might read about in books.
Moving in with relatives in Aomori (and getting characteristically lost on the way!) Makoto looks to further her training as a witch while enjoying the company of friends and family.
Relaxing or bizarre? It’s up for debate.

What I thought- “Charming but sometimes dull.”
There is certainly a place for series meant to be calm and peaceful. Non Non Biyori immediately comes to mind, and where that series was an alarming success in how to do a gentle pace with a peaceful atmosphere, Flying Witch falters somewhat with character.
Whether it was a production issue or a narrative one, there were numerous scenes with implied character interactions that would have been fun to see, yet were not shown, and overall while Makoto and her sister Akane were likable characters, much of the rest of the cast are rather throwaway.
The series looks nice and sounds decent, but some of the audio, the voice work in particular, lagged behind, with Sugawara Shinsuke’s voice performance for Kei being especially lifeless.
I don’t mean to unload insults on this series, as it was quite charming in numerous instances, and offered a few funny character moments, but I can’t help but feel like it was being held back in ways that were not originally intended.
Flying Witch has its moments, but seemed largely forgettable, mostly due to its bland cast of characters.

 

asdfasdgsadgPan de Peace!-
Tani Minami is an irresistibly cheerful young lady who has an inhuman affection for everything bread.
Lucky for her, there are girls at her new high school who share her devotion for the airy and the crunchy, and it isn’t long before the Bread Club is formed.
Scrumptious breads originating from all across the globe make their way onto plates and into mouths in this bright slice of life comedy based on the 4-koma.

What I thought- “Like a dinner roll, it came and went with little impact.”
Even as evidenced by the previous series of shorts I’ve talked about here, short series are tough. There is such precious little time to scramble and do something funny or interesting, and where some series manage to eke out room for characterization or funny comedic bits (Himegoto and Tonari no Seki-kun come to mind), some series come just shy of being something interesting or memorable, and such is the problem with Pan de Peace!.
The character designs are good, and the art looks inviting and colorful, but the episode to episode antics taken part in by these characters just aren’t all that endearing or funny.
The personalities come through, but Pan de Peace!’s lack of interesting situations or funny dialogue causes it to fall flat.

 

As mentioned above, the Summer anime season has already begun, and much like I’ve been scrambling to finish Spring series, I’m already behind on the Summer series I’ve chosen to watch.
Among them is Urobuchi Gen’s new puppet action show Thunderbolt Fantasy, which I’m super excited to check out, a new Key anime adaptation, the third season of Prisma Illya (long live the memory of Matsuki Miyu) and numerous others.
I have high hopes! Here’s hoping I can keep up!
That’s all for now though. Don’t get burned out there.
(Last year this month.)
The weather has been HOT. Keep those stories unspoiled.
それじゃ!

 

From → Anime

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