I’m watching a little less in Summer but there’s some really good stuff here.
[Standard disclaimer: Not necessarily spoiler free.]
1. Amanchu! [◄new►] – 4 eps, 8.5/10 – [95% import]
If anything will challenge Flying Witch this year, it may be Amanchu. Aria comparisons come natural thanks to it being an Amano manga, but they’re quite different shows thus far. If Aria was a story about the vibrant community of Neo Venezia and its inhabitants, Amanchu is an intensely more intimate story about the relationship between Pikari (Hikari) and Teko (Futaba).
The show’s gorgeous art (full of exceptional hair animation and stunning close-ups) is reflected in the beauty of its lead characters. Teko is a new transplant from Tokyo, depressed, alone, introverted, and lacking a sense of purpose and direction. Pikari is a bizarre, alien-like bundle of energy, obsessed with diving and super outgoing.
But as we’ve gotten to know both girls better and they’ve grown more comfortable around each other, they’ve revealed more complex personalities. Teko finds herself opening up quite freely to Pikari, to her own surprise. Pikari admits that her goofy behavior (the whistle, the strange vocal tics) is largely a coping mechanism for her own insecurities and inability to express herself clearly. They’re a lot more alike than they know, and the process of watching them realize this and become consumed within each other’s presence is incredibly beautiful (and romantic, even if the show will never acknowledge it as such).
Amanchu has the potential to be a truly stand-out production and episode two in particular showed that. I don’t know how far it can get in one cour, and its ranking so far sure doesn’t make me enthusiastic about its chances for a sequel. But if it stays laser focused on the relationship between Teko and Pikari, I have very high hopes for what it can achieve.
2. New Game! [◄new►] – 4 eps, 8/10 – [95% import]
This is more like it. I’m already enjoying this a lot more than Sansha Sanyou, and I feel like it’s nailed those quiet moments I love so much in slice of life shows. Episode three in particular (Aoba refining her NPCs and then the discussion with Nenecchi at the end) was one of the best episodes of the season so far.
It’s not quite as heavy on expressive character animation as Sansan but makes up for it with the kind of really clean, colorful character designs I like so much. Everyone is adorable and they dress damn well too, especially Kou. Visually, this show could hardly be more My Thing.
The workplace setting is also unusual for a slice of life show. School is fine and all but sometimes it’s nice to move into a new setting. Functionally it’s not a lot different from a school club anime, but the professional environment does allow for slightly different dynamics among the characters.
The show also wasted little time in letting you know who the pairings (something else Sansan lacked) are: Aoba/Hifumi, Kou/Rin, Hajime/Yun, Shizuku/Umiko. I’m a-okay with all of these. That said I do have some questions about how the show will handle this. The last gag in episode four was slightly frustrating. Framing a romantic scene then derailing it with a gag is the kind of thing you can get away with a couple times, but eventually it grows tiresome. Yes, I know not to expect these shows to actually get serious about yuri, unfortunately. But there’s a fine line between being mostly benignly ambiguous and being actively frustrating. I hope New Game can at least stay on the right side of that line if it’s not going to actively commit to anything.
3. Amaama to Inazuma [◄new►] – 4 eps, 8/10 – [90% import]
Exactly what I hoped it would be. Just a single dad and his adorable little daughter doing their best to figure each other out. Kouhei wants Tsumugi to have good meals. Kotori wants someone to make and eat meals with. Tsumugi just wants to eat. It’s a very symbiotic relationship.
The main fear I had was how they’d handle a potentially tricky relationship between Kouhei (a teacher) and Kotori (his attractive young high school student). Any attempt to develop a relationship between them would come off as skeevy, but so far the show has done nothing of the sort. He’s an adult and a dad and sees nothing in Kotori but a nice student who helps him make his daughter happy. And Kotori doesn’t seem interested in him that way either. She really just wants to share meals with someone.
I won’t necessarily be opposed to her developing a crush on him later -if- it’s nipped in the bud quickly and doesn’t turn serious. After seeing those two interact for four episodes, I understand why she might enjoy being around him, and that feeling can rather naturally turn into a form of attraction. Just don’t let it go beyond that! The focus of the show should be “Find more ways to put tasty food in Tsumugi’s belly and make her smile” every week.
4. Ange Vierge [◄new►] – 4 eps, 7.5/10 – [50% import]
I expected this to be garbage but it turns out it’s… actually… GOOD. Alright, the dialogue is garbage, overloaded with references to game mechanics and power levels, with characters explaining basic facts of their world to each other as if they somehow wouldn’t already know. But it’s charming garbage, and the dumb dialogue is part of the fun at this point.
It’s also a better production than I expected. I fully anticipated a bunch of ugly 3DCG characters when they’re flying around fighting, but nope! The enemies are CG but they’re also just random geometrical blobs like Strike Witches neuroi so whatever. The OP sequence and song are also great.
The cast offers a bunch of excellent ships, the character designs are great, the seiyuu are an all-star lineup, and it’s just fun fun fun. Definitely recommended if you like Sky Girls or Strike Witches of just anything with cute girls flying around and blowing stuff up and being dumb.
1. Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu – 18 eps, 8/10
I feel like I’ve said so much about this show already that it’s hard to summarize it here, even though I’ve not discussed it here before. I started Re:Zero when it was already 10 episodes in so I don’t have any comments from early on, but here’s some of my thoughts from elsewhere:
• On the show in general through ep 12
• On the arc ongoing as of ep 14
• On my hesitant reaction to level of violence in ep 15
• On the female cast as of ep 18
2. Jojo no Kimyou na Bouken: Diamond wa Kudakenai – 18 eps, 6/10
Give more Reimi. Reimi cute.
Crunchyroll sweeping everything I’d want to watch this season was great. Re:Zero is showing a strong second cour and four new shows to watch in Summer is enough for me.
My Aria the Animation rewatch stalled at episode 9, and I really want to to pick that back up. I also have a chance to finally get around to Owarimonogatari, so I want to watch that soon. But between the new season and playing some games (more Project Diva Future Tone, a second Fallout 4 playthrough w/the DLC, Idolmaster Platinum Stars just came out this past week, and Diablo III resets for a new season this weekend, ahhhh) and other stuff, I’ve got barely a fraction of the time I need to do the stuff I want to do.