Ben and I watched anime over the summer, and now that it's fall we decided to put our thoughts about the previous season in print. So without further adieu, here are our impressions of Summer 2016's anime, starting with my own.
Alderamin on the Sky:
Where to begin? my original impression was that this was going to be another warring era drama. It is far from that. The character introductions were spot on and their development continued to the last episode. Speaking of the ending, the conversation between the male lead and the princess is a good finale; but I'm hoping this is the prelude to at least a second season. Overall this was a well done series that held my interest from beginning to end.
I give it a FIVE and recommend it.
Started slowly, almost annoyingly so. However, after the introduction of the main characters, I began to warm up to this show. Pikari--Miss Extremely Outgoing, almost to the point of turning one off--meets Teko, a slightly introverted girl who just moved to the area. This is more than you typical slice of life. The premise of scuba diving along with the quality of the supporting cast makes this an interesting series if you can get past some of the Pikari and Teko's antics.
Overall a very strong FOUR.
Arslan continues to be an exceptional story. These eight episodes open up a new chapter where the story continues to test the main characters' mettle, and so far their testing is going well. We end with a cliffhanger placing Arslan in a delicate position: to become king, he must decide how many established rules of the kingdom he must break. And on top of that, which one of his allies will become an enemy? We'll have to wait and see.
Kidou Senshi Gundam RE: 0096:
Remembering this is a Gundam show, I didn't expect this to end well. It actually ended better than I expected. However, I thought the "secret" of the box was pretty lame.
Surprise! This was actually good! It ended (maybe) very well. I do believe a second season could be in the works (and it should be). Characters were very good, the story was coherent, and even the animation looked good.
Mob Psycho 100:
To quote Ben: "This show really brings it." While not one punch man, it scores just as well for many different reasons.
Since I'm a RPG player, I wondered how this series would explore the gaming business from the creative standpoint. If this is a typical representation of the gaming industry (my tongue planted firmly in cheek), then it's a miracle anything gets done. Entertaining but, like I said, not representative of the industry. I hope...
Story = Three
Background music = Three
Idol group = Four point Five
Overall = Three. I guess Frontier spoiled me.
Ben's thoughts continue after the break:
Top-notch Mafia revenge drama. It's set in 1920s America, with admirable attention to historical details. Nothing is out of place (except for one thing; where, exactly, is the city of Lawless?). Pacing and production values are on point. Studio Shuka (composed of old Brain's Base people) have totally got their act together. But the writing is what really stands out. Compelling characters interact in surprising ways, while the story maintains a tone of tragic inevitability. On several occasions, I would finish an episode feeling stunned and amazed at what just happened. And yet, in hindsight, none of these twists came out of nowhere. That is some master-class storytelling.
Alderamin on the Sky:
As a fan of the manga (never read the original light novels), I was pumped for this show. Madhouse can do good work when they put their minds to it. And in this case, the results were very good. However, the first episode got this series off to a rocky start. The world-building exposition and character introductions were clumsily handled, and the main character came off as a bit of a creep. Starting with the second episode, though, things picked up, and the show never looked back. The cast got some real development, and the main character came into his own as sort of a younger, douchier Yang Wen-li. Also, the show got better at elegantly incorporating details of the world while keeping the story momentum going. Notably, it avoids the trap of over-explaining the magic system, as it avoids so many of other light novel cliches. The characters show a refreshing level of maturity in how they deal with matters of sexuality and violence. And the plotting was spot-on. All in all, a solid package. Head and shoulders above almost all other fantasy light novel adaptations.
Amaama to Inazuma (Sweetness and Lightning):
Adorable slice-of-life about a widowed single father learning how to cook for his 5-year-old daughter. Do not watch this show on an empty stomach. The cooking scenes which make up a large part of the series are great. But it's more than just a cooking tutorial (although it works pretty well at that). There is some real heart here. What makes this show stand out is the little girl. She's believably childish without being obnoxious, which is a rare thing for child characters in anime.
More Arslan, and it was good. Our heroes keep bringing the awesome, and some of the villains even get a bit of character development. Unfortunately, the story is woefully incomplete. Until we get another season, I will continue to curse the anime industry politics that limited this season to only 8 episodes. Frustrating, because this is such a compelling story, and I want to know what happens next.
This season's noitaminA show was a quiet character drama about a junior-high baseball player. Compared to the other noitaminA sports-related drama--Ping Pong--Battery fell far short. The very limited baseball action was almost beside the point; but the main problem with the show was that while it explored some interesting themes (i.e. bullying and conformity), it didn't fully follow through.
Seriously flawed adaptation of the Conviction arc. The core of what makes the story good was still there in the writing, but the direction and animation were awful. I weep for what might have been.
Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu LOVE! LOVE!
Sequel to last year's gay magical boy show. This season takes some shots at the idol-industrial complex. Still funny.
Hitori no Shita the Outcast:
Shoddy Chinese fantasy martial arts action. Production values are crap, the writing is uneven, and the season ends just when the story starts going somewhere. I liked the female lead, though. She had an amusing deadpan charm.
Kidou Senshi Gundam RE: 0096
Overall, this was an uneven entry in the UC Gundam franchise. Great Gundam action, and most of the characters were well-written. Mineva is the absolute best princess character in a Gundam show, and one of the best princesses in all of anime. However, there are three serious flaws with this show. First, the main character is weak. When he's not being a bland hero, he's spending several episodes moping and being useless, which is even worse. Second, the show leaned heavily into Newtype nonsense. Newtypes are a blight on the UC. Finally and most importantly, the final reveal of the McGuffin that everyone had been fighting over was stupid. It makes the entire politics of the Universal Century stupid. Which is a shame, because up until that reveal, the UC had a political economy that made sense. Sigh.
Mob Psycho 100:
Edges out 91 Days for anime of the season. I loved this show. From start to finish, everything was firing on all cylinders. The opening theme rocked. I would watch it every episode, spellbound. I especially loved how each shot of the opening seamlessly flowed into the next. The direction and animation were top-notch. Who knew that the author's freaky art style could look so good? But best of all was the writing. In many respects, it was even better than One Punch Man. One Punch Man had sharper social satire, but Mob Psycho had more heart. I loved the delicious irony of a naive teenager being taught valuable lessons about how to live with integrity by a con artist, and the con artist actually being a good teacher whose advice is true and correct. Brilliant.
Shoujo high school drama with time travel elements. As someone who lives with a depressed family member, I can say that this show totally gets how depression works, and for that I can forgive any number of minor frustrations. There were some episodes where the characters' actions annoyed me, but that was not necessarily a weakness. It was a mark of how believable the characterization was, and how much I got emotionally invested in the struggles of these characters, that their mistakes had such an effect on me. And the payoff was worth it. Also noteworthy, especially considering that this is a shoujo romance, is that the handling of time travel was totally consistent. The series stuck with the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, where time travel creates a new alternate timeline. There were several scenes showing this group of friends in the future, before and after they sent back letters advising their past selves on how to save one of their friends from himself. It was clear that once they sent off their letters to the past, it was out of their hands and they had no way of knowing what would happen to their (now alternate) past selves. All they had were wishes and hope.
Another show about overcoming the regrets of the past, but unlike Orange, no time travel. Instead, the main character gets a chance to relive his high school days with the benefit of hard-earned wisdom. It played mostly like a slice-of-life, but with some weight to it. The tone was nicely balanced. Not too dark or too fluffy, willing to laugh at the characters' foibles without being mean. It was great fun to watch the main character sensibly cut through all the usual high school melodramatic nonsense while still struggling with his own issues. Another nice bit was how each episode had its own ending song, and they were all good. Although the show ended at a decent stopping point (having mostly caught up to the manga, which is still ongoing), the story was still incomplete.
Seriously problematic visual novel adaptation. I liked the characters and wished them well, although those with a lower tolerance for moe might not. Unfortunately, the plot failed hard. Everybody dies so the show can make some kind of half-baked environmentalist/humanist point.
Shokugeki no Souma Ni no Sara:
Solid adaptation of a manga I already enjoyed. Neat use of pop culture references in the food fantasy sequence, including a JoJo bit in one episode. Most of this season was a tournament arc, but a well-made one. But then at the end, it turned into a kind of training arc. I liked how the series made clear that, overpowered as the main character is, he doesn't have all the answers.
Tales of Zestiria the X:
Ufotable video game adaptation. Beautiful to look at, and the characters were likable (especially the princess), but there was a serious lack of narrative momentum. The show didn't help itself by having two episodes in the middle focusing on a completely unrelated group of characters, evidently to promote some other game in the franchise. Oh, and it turned out that this season was only half the story.