2017 Mid-year Update

Summer has begun, or what passes for it right now… Still, what I am watching is enjoyable, so here’s my initial impressions.

I won’t be including Winter or Spring shows in the rankings below, so this is purely based on Summer. I’ll do the year-to-date cumulative ranking when Summer is complete.

[ Standard disclaimer: Not spoiler free! ]

All of the following are loosely grouped by color: Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, Tier 4. Click on a title to jump to the comments.

Completed or Airing
01. New Game!! [ 9.0 / 10 ]
02. Centaur no Nayami [ 8.0 / 10 ]
03. Hina Logi: From Luck & Logic [ 8.0 / 10 ]
04. Isekai Shokudou [ 7.0 / 10 ]

Shorts
none

Dropped
none


New Game!! 99.9% import
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New Game is back and it could not possibly have had a stronger opening episode. I expected the bright and colorful designs, the expressive acting, and of course the characters I love. But while it could have just thrown us into a goofy skit, New Game wanted more structure. The most obvious way it stopped to take stock was by doing literal performance reviews of its main characters. With one game complete and the next in the planning stages, Eagle Jump decided to ask the girls what they really want to do next.

I’m most keenly interested in seeing this season focus much more on Hifumi, and Shizuku asking her to become character design lead is a huge step in that direction. As much as I adore Hifumi, I never felt like season one gave her an appropriate amount of focus. When I say I like the shy girl archetype, that’s because I like seeing the shy girl get over her shyness and feel comfortable expressing herself around the people she cares about. Hifumi only just barely started along that path in season one. The limitation was largely due to season one’s decision to focus on Aoba’s growth, and that of her mentor and idol, Kou. Kou filled a lot of the “hesitant senpai” roles that Hifumi otherwise may have. Now that that both Aoba and Kou have instilled confidence in each other, I desperately hope it’s Hifumi’s turn. The visual novel’s Hifumi route did some incredible things that I’m hoping come up in similar ways in the anime, because if there’s one way s2 can top s1, it’d be to fully realize Hifumi as a character. She deserves it.

And I can’t not mention the biggest surprise of all: Nene and Umiko. I’ve always loved that ship, but in a “haha they’re so incompatible this makes no sense” sort of way. And then in this episode they go out on what is totally a date, Nene makes Umiko blush, they feed each other ice cream, and Nenecchi confides in Umiko that she’s been inspired to get into game dev (quite obviously inspired by Umiko). The way Umiko lets her guard down around Nene is unlike how she acts around anyone else, and while she doesn’t realize it, it says a lot. The potential here is enormous and while my expectations are limited (slice of life almost always stops at the subtext), I’d love to see what could develop. [1 episode]

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Centaur no Nayami 95% import
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This is a weird one for me to talk about, because it’s one of the first times I’ve ever read the source material before seeing the anime. In a way this leaves me thinking I should talk about how it’s adapted, but I’m not sure I’m particularly interested in doing so. I mean it’s a -functional- adaptation, but nothing more. The visuals are kinda cheap-feeling though not awful (it was hard to find a really interesting screenshot, for example). The BGM is sometimes too loud. The dialogue isn’t particularly snappy and the overall aesthetic just seems to be “just put it on TV”.

But I love it anyway. The world of Centaur no Nayami is so weird and rich and nuanced, and I think the anime is, so far, doing an at least passable job hinting at that. Whether and how it’ll be willing to get into the -most- bizarre aspects of the manga remains to be seen, but with just one cour I understand it may need to focus a bit. And there’s still so much charm in the little moments of seeing how different bodily form factors are accounted for in their society. The social commentary that makes the manga stand out is baked into the every day as well, in the same way racial prejudices and struggles to find the best way to hold together a diverse society are baked into our every day lives. So skimming over some of the historical lore won’t necessarily hurt the show. And chapter-long asides into topics that seem completely disconnected from the main characters’ lives are probably a lot easier to pull off in manga than anime.

Talking about this really is hard. My usual desire to speculate or tease out themes is diminished when I already know the source material. And the “just functional” adaptation doesn’t leave a lot of things to say there. But there’s still a lot going on here. Suffice to say, I highly recommend it, and if you’re at all intrigued by this depiction of Murayama’s strange world, please please check out the manga too. [2 episodes]

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Hina Logi: From Luck & Logic 90% import
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Hinalogi started ridiculously early, so it’s already on episode four. And so far it’s got a lot of the Douga Koubou charm I remember from back when they did more shows I watched. Having both this and New Game in the same season doesn’t seem to be hurting either show, thankfully. What stands out most right now is just how nice everyone is, including and especially the ojou and her two hangers-on. Yayoi (the ojou) is my favorite character in the show, because I can’t get enough of “kind ojou” characters. There’s not a whole lot else to say, except that it’s bright, cute, fun, has well-choreographed and visually unique transformation scenes, and easily the most expressive faces this season.

I never saw the series it is (in little more than name only) spun off from, but there’s no need to. I’ve often looked at a show and thought to myself “I just want a spinoff where they get rid fo the guys and let the girls be cute and have fun all day” and Hinalogi just… did that. I’m not surprised it’s turned out so well! [4 episodes]

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Isekai Shokudou 25% import
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Gave this on a shot on a whim due to the cute waitress and the male lead being an adult, and so far I’m not disappointed. The chef is yet another argument in favor of my idea that male leads under 18 are just a bad idea, and Aletta is cuteness incarnate. But because this is an episodic cooking show, the quality of the core cast won’t be quite as important as whether the strange characters that walk through the Nekoya door each week can support an episode’s worth of focus. It seems like we’re going to spend at least a modest amount of time outside the restaurant, so that can’t feel like wasted time or the show won’t hold up. Thankfully, thus far it’s working. Just when I felt like the Prince’s backstory in episode two was starting to bore me, they wrapped it all up into a great punchline that made the episode. So yep, I’m on board with this one. [2 episodes]

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It’s a shame, but the simulcasting situation for Summer has been particularly bad. Sentai/Strike dragged a number of potential watches into their black hole. Jigoku Shoujo did get on CR, but with Aniplex subs, and I hate how Aniplex does subtitles. Since I’m not *that* desperate to watch it, I’m just going to skip it. It’ll probably be the same with Owarimonogatari 2, though I’ll catch that later in BD rips as I usually do with Monogatari. Most bizarre of all is the Symphogear situation. Sequels are supposed to be the things I can rely on when all else fails, and yet… still nothing. How obnoxious.

If I end up just watching four shows, well, so be it. I’ve survived lesser seasons, and at least I like the ones I’m watching. It’ll also make import decisions pretty simple!

4 Responses to “Summer 2017 viewing update #1”

  1. AholePony says:

    You might give Cheer Fruits a go? I haven’t watched episode 2 yet but based just on the premier I think it’s worth a look.

    • something something says:

      Sentai got that one.

      • AholePony says:

        Awww bummer. At least the 4 you listed are quite strong so far. This is a far cry from the past couple years where “per-season”, iyshikei and cute moe was pretty barren. We’ve had a good 2017 so far imo.

      • hpulley says:

        Sentai gave it to HIDIVE, the TAN do over with the same ugly yellow subs but in the middle of the frame while in Beta; not sure how they messed that up so badly when TAN didn’t have that issue. Thankfully I don’t need them and they let you turn them off but if you need those subs… prepare to be annoyed.

        Cheer Fruits does seem like a good show however. Perhaps someone is re-typesetting the subs. For me it is worth $4/month since I can disable the awful subs.

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