First Impressions! Summer 2016, Week One

New season! Old layout! If it ain’t Rewrite, don’t fix it.

Being off uni might let me blog a few more series than I have been for the past couple of seasons. So far Summer 2016 is already wowing me in so many ways, and I’ve still got Qualidea Code and Mob Psycho 100 to introduce to my weekly watching for next week’s post!

I only wish there was something like Luluco to put in my Short-Cuts this season. Bananya looks like it could be just as good though.

New Game!

Cute girls doing CGI things. It’s hardly Shirobako, but it’s not supposed to be. Aobo stresses over ‘becoming an adult’ in a company where everyone acts like kids. A comedy of manners, essentially, poking fun at both the sloppy and the way-too-serious styles of work life.

I liked the pace, and the VA’s performances all round sold me on the excitement of joining, or having someone join,a game development company. The difference between Hifumi’s tone over text and her voice IRL was really well performed and made for some great comedy. The same can’t be said for the scene revolving around Kou sleeping with her underwear on display, but I guess such comedy just isn’t my taste. Partly because it’s tasteless.

Should be something light and fun to relax with, if it keeps up its energy. Maybe New Game! will inspire me to write my CV and actually get a job this summer.

Orange

Now this is the kind of time-travel I like. Naho’s letter from her future self is fixed text, and the more she deviates from it, the more unsure she’ll surely become about how trustworthy its advice is. She’s made one misstep already. But the softball game gives us a great insight into the things she’s changing for the people around her.

It could easily have been a selfish goal, to make her life better, but we can tell the Naho of 26 is as selfless and dreamy as the 16-year-old we follow. Her regrets are clearly for how she worsened the lives of those around her. The time-spanning letter also carries with it a sense of foregoing the comfort of the present for the sake of the future, something my generation often fall short of. I can guess Azu will be challenged on this matter too; her liveliness will probably hide deeper troubles within. For now though, it really helps to paint a contrast with our subtle protagonists.

The pace is life-like, the cast feel fresh, and I can’t wait to peel off the skin of this Orange and get into its juicy bits.

Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan

https://world.animatetimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/1467608355_1_7_b90a733fe93bbd5515dea2126149e8ac-1.jpg

I won’t put this under ‘short-cuts’ because, while the episodes are only four and a half minutes long, we get five (!) of them a week. The studio have basically broken up each week’s episode into five weekday offerings, and it’s a brilliant idea. The short bursts of comedy make for no lapses of attention, and give us five times more of that awesome OP.

Seems Sakamoto would have done better with this format, and I’m already preferring Saiki’s omnipotence to Sakamoto’s of last season. There’s a great contrast between him and anyone he’s with. He looks like an anomaly, he sounds like an anomaly. And yet, everyone he meets is crazy as hell. Parents who fight for his attention. An idiot who gets a superhuman like him in trouble. A chuunibyou whose delusions he feeds. but the highlight this week was Teruhashi self-indulgent ‘perfection’ clashing with Saiki’s actual Godly superiority. Her rewriting everything in a way that works for her, when our hero has been changing the real world to fit his purposes. There’s some genius irony between this pair.

Comedy gold, with nuggets of comedy platinum tossed in there too. Getting this every weekday is too good to be true!

Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru!

Not your average school club slice-of-life. Usami sees the beauty in all sorts of things, but Uchimaki’s stuck in only the glipses of beauty the hackneyed world of 2D otaku waifu-bait gives him. But underneath the overextended panties-related comedy is a real narrative blossoming; the sense that this girl, in doing all the things that make us, the viewers, love her character, will be able to add angles to Uchimaki’s artistic palette until he starts seeing the beauty of girls in full 3D.

The President only felt like some kind of middle man, as good as Usami’s bathroom in simply offering our heroine someone who isn’t plot-relevant to bounce her ideas off. But two guys and one girl is a rare combination – although, we do have someone hiding in the locker…

Not sure about the mileage of this one, but if Uchimaki develops from week to week, I might just fall in love with his character as much as Usami loves him already. Enough to shed a tear because of his stupidity. For a little drama with a moe-blob center-stage, the stakes feel surprisingly high.

Rewrite

An unrelatable twat sequentially engages with a group of less than two-dimensional waifus while being scared of terrible CGI monsters and a ribbon-wielding spirit-girl who’s really giving the audience some kind of wet dream rather than a nightmare. This double-episode was appalling. Every possible thought I could have about anything was stolen from me by the expository dialogue of the characters. The irony that our protagonist says he ‘realized he had nothing’, before giving us nothing about him to care about.

He dies in a dream – so what? Why should I believe he’s in any actual danger in reality when all this spirit does is teethe him? I didn’t feel any fear when he felt fear. Eighty percent of the episode was some ubiquitous school life paradise where everything works out for him even though he’s an asshat. He says he ‘doesn’t feel like he fits in’, but the school gives us the opposite impression. There isn’t even coordination between the exposition and the scenes themselves. And props to making the fantasy world even more unidentifiable than the school.

I can only imagine this worse as a VN. Would have been a better start if we’d just all slept under the tree with Kotori. Doubt this’ll go anywhere but the Drop Zone next week.

Amanchu

The joys of school life are like the ocean: infinite, if you’re willing to dive into them. Hiraki’s been diving all her life, but Futaba isn’t used to the deep end. I loved Futabu gazing into the ocean of worries she carried with her in her phone, only to realize that there’s more to life than the past and what little she made of things back then. A splash of seawater is all you need to see the wonders of life, and Hiraki will be that splash for her.

I came expecting ‘healing’ slice-of-life and wasn’t disappointed. The cartoonish direction at times really sold me on just how excitable Hiraki’s world is. But while Hiraki if familiar with the ocean, we have her get distracted by seeing Futabu for the first time, distracted from the soup she’d been ‘whooping’ about before. It’s a subtle tell that she has as much interest in her. A sparkling friendship awaits, but what’ll happen when the waves get choppy?

More proof that it’s the characters that make the setting. I’m as excited to get stuck into this high school as Futaba now is, and that’s inspired me to get stuck into other things now too, like trying to get a job, and keeping my desk tidy. If I can manage the orderliness of life like Hiraki, maybe I’ll always have my face ready to turn into a melon-shaped smile too.

91 Days

Two boys who hate the mafia. One wants revenge; the other, only distance from them. Of course they’re both gonna get thrown into the thick of it.

What Corteo’s learned from Bruno is shown with wonderful subtlety. As a child both of them knew the fire wasn’t as bad as it looked, but it’s taken Corteo a while to be able to handle that fire himself.  The invasion of homes is a recurring motif, but while Corteo was helpless as his family were murdered, he saves his ‘brother’ from a Mafia thug. The story sells their friendship so well, through conflict and their shared but differing resolve.

But Bruno also saves a man tied to the family he’s bound for revenge against. It’s exciting to think where this story will go; will Bruno end up working with this family while he works out how to bring them own from the inside? The tension is going to make for some great chemistry between the characters. It helps that the cinematography is mature and phenomenal.

I’ve never enjoyed an opening credits scene more than this; an amazing composition that set the tonal backdrop of Lawless and its population. This world feels visceral, unfair, and everything I want to see a hero like Bruno arise in. Awesome stuff.

Amaama to Inazuma

Managed to spend over half of this first episode crying my eyes out. Kouhei’s distance from Tsumugi was felt in every shot; although they were happy, he felt he could never be the girl’s mother. I found myself bursting into tears as Tsumugi hugged the television, which Kouhei had let ‘mother’ her all this time with its magical girls, and delivered the heart-wrenching reality that she doesn’t know her mother is gone.

So when Iida remarked about bursting into tears at the thought of her mother and the love she put into her cooking, I couldn’t help but get all bloopy-eyed again. These three all have different things that food mean to them. Iida wants to be like her mother, while Kouhei can now come to be Tsumugi’s mother. His parenting will blossom as he learns to cook. But what will happen when Tsumugi inevitably comes to learn the truth?

A reminder of how much I’ve never liked eating alone myself, and how much cooking means to community, and a sign that there’ll only be more tears to come.

Re:Zero

The second cour starts by wrapping up Subaru’s development across the first; he takes every problem onto himself, and lies to those around him that he’s doing anything for them, or that he needs them. He breaks Emilia’s trust again and again, but can’t handle people breaking away from him. And with Rem looking to be dead (at least in this timeline), his last action regarding her was breaking her trust too. His training against the butler was reminiscent of his time-loops, except days are passing this time. He’s just going nowhere with the anger and self-importance he’s nurturing.

He can’t even drink alcohol yet, and he believes he understands the professionals and adults of this world better than they understand themselves. It’s a powerful outcry against the ideology virtual worlds feed otakus. So I love it whenever Subaru’s stubbornness is broken and he can only stare shocked at what he sees. You never know what you had until it’s gone.

Either he learns to do what he wants to do for the needs of others, like Rem does, or things will only get worse from here. A cracking start to the second half, with an exceptional new OP as the icing on the cake.

Short-Cuts

  • Bananya. This had better characterization and comedy than Rewrite. I’m serious.
  • Ozmafia! Only slightly better characterization than Rewrite, but I don’t really see the mileage. The comedy in here is written like its on some kind of laughter-budget.

The Drop-Zone

  • Taboo Tattoo. Looks like a good fantasy martial-arts flick, but as much as I wanted to engage with the characters, I spent the whole first episode feeling certain that there won’t be much to blog about. Could be fun to binge later, though.

That’s all for this week. See you next time!

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