The weather is getting colder, and the days are getting shorter… certainly feels as though this long, blazing summer is approaching its end, so I’d better get this belated post out of the way before the next season starts!
The first episode dropped us straight in the middle of the main cast eating sukiyaki around a kotatsu. No introductions or explanation, but seeing them interact around the dinner table, it was easy to get an idea of their personalities and relationships. Basically, Snake-girl Jashin-chan is a jerk who bullies everyone and wants to kill human/witch Yurine, but is comically bad at it, and ends up being killed and eaten herself (but she regenerates, so all’s good)!
This series felt repetitive by the end of the first episode; each ep has several segments, and most (if not all) of those segments revolve around Jashin-chan being selfish and getting punished for it. The animation and character designs are quite budget. But for some reason or other, I like it anyway! My favourite character has to be homeless and halo-less angel Pekora, though again she has about two gags (generally being poor and suffering, plus her internal moral struggle to accept help from an ‘evil’ witch).
One minute main character Rachel is in counselling, after witnessing many people being killed. The next, she wakes up in an unfamiliar building, reads some writing on a wall, has a conversation with a typewriter, then gets into a lift. A voice announces that she is now a ‘sacrifice’, and she travels up to the next floor, where she is attacked by a scythe-wielding maniac. The floor above isn’t much more welcoming either: she is reunited with her counselor, but he seems to have an unhealthy obsession with her eyes…
I had no idea what was going on in the first episode, and I still don’t now! But Rachel chooses to team up with scythe-guy Isaac (she’ll help him escape, if he kills her afterwards – what a partnership!), and the two have been ascending one floor at a time ever since, dealing with weirdos and facing dark moments from their own pasts. You can feel its adventure game roots clearly, with the characters exploring rooms, finding items and solving puzzles before progressing – as a fan of adventure games, I approve!
Not for the squeamish, this series, as it features a lot of blood! And that’s in addition to the main characters, who are blood cells themselves. 😛 Action right from the first ep, as the body was invaded by pneumococcus bacteria. Fortunately the neutrophil White Blood Cells were there to save the day! One of these neutrophils ends up hanging around with a Red Blood Cell, who got lost trying to deliver a package of carbon dioxide to the lungs… little did she know that she was helping the bacteria spread in the process.
Basically, each episode is a day in the life of anthropomorphic body cells. Creative, well-written, and educational. I already knew I would like this if it did a good job of adapting the excellent manga, and so far I’m more than satisfied. But precisely because I’ve already read the manga and know what’s coming, I find it harder to get as excited about it each week as I do with the most of the other offerings on this list, which are all new to me.
5: Banana Fish
Main character and gang leader Ash Lynx’s brother returned from war an empty shell of a person, only ever mumbling the words ‘Banana Fish’. Ash then ends up in possession of a drug seemingly related to his brother’s condition – a drug that his adoptive father / sex abuser and mafia don Dino very much wants to get ahold of. Young photographer Okamura Eiji meets Ash while doing a report on street gangs, just as it all starts to kick off, and ends up getting far more involved than he originally planned!
The plot is good, pacing is a little on the fast side but not bad by any means. The characters have to be the most developed of the all-new shows in this otherwise slapstick comedy-filled lineup. However, there’s nothing glamorous about the gangster underworld portrayed in Banana Fish. The dark themes make for heavy viewing, and I have to be in the right mood for it. I just hope there’s a vaguely happy ending in store after all this!
Everything from the promo art, to the synopsis, to the OP theme portrayed a nice, fluffy slice-of life series, where cute girls sat around playing games. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, since I might have skipped it entirely otherwise), I watched the trailer, which gave a small spoilerific glimpse of the glorious faces and insane comedy that was lurking under the surface. I hadn’t seen school club members be such jerks to each other since Sabagebu! in 2014, so this was a nice change from the usual cute and friendly dynamic!
It was love at first sight in episode 1. Everything from that first slap during Rock Paper Scissors, to the Pinfinger game, to Olivia’s terrible Japanese act was perfect. I wasn’t sure what to make of the final segment at first, testing out whether briefcases could float in water was a bit random… but the ending with the teacher was a phenomenal payoff. Since then, it has remained enjoyable and there have been very few weak eps or segments, though it has of course lost that initial shock factor.
This series focuses on a group of exiles: former pirates, disgraced generals, monks and merchants, ranging from children to the elderly. All people who might otherwise have been sentenced to death for some crime or other. Instead, they are sent to the far extremes of 13th Century Japan, to defend a small island from Kublai Khan’s enormous invading Mongolian forces. Based on the actual historic events of the The Bun’ei Invasion.
Main character Kuchii Jinzaburou has somehow managed to lead this bunch of misfits to several victories so far, but their enemy outnumbers them by a ridiculous margin. The ‘Mongol’ armies are by no means a united and organised force themselves though – they are made up of several armies from all the Empire’s conquered lands, each speaking different languages, possessing different technologies and excelling in different styles of combat, making things more interesting. Action, tactics, betrayal – what’s not to like? 😀
2: Grand Blue
“Probably not for me” was my pre-season reaction – I don’t drink, and try to avoid rowdy drunks IRL, so couldn’t see it appealing to me. Even if it ended up focusing on the diving, I had plenty of that in last season’s Amanchu! Then, I found out that it was by the same author as BakaTest (which I loved), so I decided to give it a chance anyway. And that first episode was amazing. Great faces, hilarious comedy, and the main character’s swift descent from nice normal person to half naked guy hiding from the police was brilliant.
I didn’t think that anything this season would out-do Asobi Asobase’s first episode in terms of making me laugh, but Grand Blue managed it, and it has remained consistently funny ever since. Also, lead female Chisa looks just like BakaTest’s Hideyoshi, which is a definite plus. The superb voice acting adds to the humour. And it easily has the best opening theme of the season on top of it all. In summary, definitely for me, and definitely the best of the season’s all-new offerings!
But, just as with Boku no Hero Academia S3 last season, there’s no stopping a AAA series with 37 episodes of prior development from taking the overall #1 spot. Even if it did air ridiculously late and hold this post up. Once upon a time, Shingeki no Kyojin seemed like a simple tale of survival, of hunted humans versus the enormous monsters that threatened their peaceful lives… now, it’s full on humans vs humans, as the conspiracies and mysteries of the walls and what the titans really are start to come to light.
It has been nice to finally get some answers to some of the series’ biggest mysteries and longest-standing questions. The politics, attempted purge of the Scout Regiment and subsequent coup against the false king (who turned out to be nowhere near as imposing as he first appeared!) was a nice change from the events of the past two series. But… I am hoping for more actual Titan action before the end of the series. 😛 I fully expect this to make my all-time Top 50 list, so had better get to clearing a space for it.
That’s everything for this season, so far at least – as usual, I’ll be back at the end of the season with some minor changes to my lineup (substitutes for the three that are continuing into the Autumn), so feel free to leave any Summer series recommendations in the comments!