[In Which I Review] New anime, Summer 2014

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
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#1
It's (nearly) July, and you all know what this means : a batch of new anime series start airing in Japan. In this thread, I will be reviewing the first episodes of each new series as they come out. At least, that's the plan ; but hey, I've managed to do it for three years without burning out, so let's push our luck.

Be aware that new series are going to trickle out over the next couple of weeks ; so don't just dismiss the season as a wash because none of the first few shows are much good.

As usual, note that I shall be skipping :
- Most sequel and continuation series. This means no Free!, Sword Art Online or Space Dandy, for example. There's no real point in reviewing them, you already know whether you're part of the audience or not (or if you don't, you probably want to check the original instead). I WILL be covering spin-offs that look distinctive enough (such as Sailor Moon Crystal, because seriously)...
- The few kids' show I just can't get any access to. (However, I WILL be reviewing any kids' show I can lay my hands on.)
- Most OVAs, especially "extra episodes". Also, most movies released this Summer won't be on DVD/Blu-Ray for ages.

If you're interested in reading my past reviews, there's my archive website collecting all of them in an easily-searchable format.


The schedule normally has the first few series starting from July 2nd onwards, but there's often the one underdog show which has the good idea to pre-air its first episode on NicoNico a week early to distinguish itself from the glut. This time around, it's...



Survival Game Club! (Sabagebu!)
(12ish episodes)

What's it about ?

The title says it all, really ; it's an adaptation of a comedy shoujo manga.

Characters

Momoka, our protagonist. She's just transferred into a new girls-only high-school for the billionth time (because of her dad's professional obligations), and she's going through the motions yet again : act nice towards everybody and not make waves. That's not her real personality (she's cynical, impulsive and vindictive), but it's less trouble that way. She certainly doesn't want to make any actual friends or join a club, because what's the point if she moves around again in a few months ? Unfortunately, she randomly stumble into...

Miou, the president of the Survival Game Club, who's by all counts a complete lunatic. She rarely, if at all, bothers with her school uniform, and sometimes even comes to school in full tactical gear. How she gets away with such antics is a mystery, although it helps that most of the student body is madly admirative of her. Anyway, Momoka's caught her eye, and she's not about to let go.

Other members of the club include Boobs, who's also a model on the side (and, er, that kind of model, it seems) ; the cute little girl who's a bit too possessive of her childhood friend Miou ; and the monotone potted plant who's in it for the cosplay aspect. I'm also not entirely sure whether the duck mascot is really sentient.

Production Values

It's a bit hard to judge with NicoNico's eyebleed-o-vision, but this is a bright and shiny series with distinctive character designs. Animation is average, but it's good at selling the sight gags, and that's what counts. The level of fanservice isn't low, but not too cringeworthy either.

Overall Impression

You might remember last year's C3-bu, which had a similar premise. Beyond the questionable decision to have the girls fight in school uniforms, it had them wear adequate protection and observe good gun safety. It pushed the realistic approach to have a lead with crushing co-dependency issues, and the havoc it wreaked on the group.

Here, the narrator goes out of his way to make it clear we won't have any of that angst shit, and don't care one bit about realism. It's all about bringing the funny. The good news is that this is from the makers of the likes of Mitsudomoe and Love Lab (different studio, but same director and head writer), and they know about funny. If you enjoyed their madcap approach to comedy, and their precisely-paced slapstick, then you're in luck, because that's what they're doing here too.

This made me laugh nonstop. Of course I'll keep watching.
 
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MadMac

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#3
Huh, first show wasn't on my radar at all and "There's a club" anime are usually insipid but this one has a pedigree. I'll check it out.
 

Dawgstar

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These threads are always a blessing, but in particular this season as I've got no idea what's all coming out for the most part. Already we've got a surprise, as indeed I had written off Survival Game Club! as "Lord, didn't we do Stella Women’s Academy C3 last summer?"
 
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Bull

Professional Game Convention Drunk
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#5
You might remember last year's C3-bu, which had a similar premise. Beyond the questionable decision to have the girls fight in school uniforms, it had them wear adequate protection and observe good gun safety. It pushed the realistic approach to have a lead with crushing co-dependency issues, and the havoc it wreaked on the group.

Here, the narrator goes out of his way to make it clear we won't have any of that angst shit, and don't care one bit about realism. It's all about bringing the funny. The good news is that this is from the makers of the likes of Mitsudomoe and Love Lab (different studio, but same director and head writer), and they know about funny. If you enjoyed their madcap approach to comedy, and their precisely-paced slapstick, then you're in luck, because that's what they're doing here too.

This made me laugh nonstop. Of course I'll keep watching.
Cool. This one had me really confused because I kept seeing the synopsis for C3 on Crunchy, but then a nearly identical one for this upcoming show, so I wasn't sure if it was new, a continuation, or if I was just slowly going insane from mainlining far, far too much anime the last 6 months. :) (I still suspect the latter is true regardless.)

I will likely steer clear of C3 because, well, I don't need no angst. But this sounds like fun. Hopefully it's not a big bait and switch, but I'll probably add this to my list of things to watch. Sadly don't see it streaming anywhere yet. Hopefully Crunchy picks it up.
 

Jhiday

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Bakumatsu Rock
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

What. The. Heck. Is. This. Thing.

Okay, let's start with facts. This adapts a PSP rhythm game. It's nominally set in the Bakumatsu era (mid-19th century, at the transition between Edo & Meiji), but in practice it's a gleeful anachronism stew. The plot involves the EVIL government enforcing a monopoly on music (only a few selected musicians/idols can play, and only the totally insipid J-Pop-ish "Heaven's Song" repertoire), and a ragtag bunch of handsome rebels fighting back with the power of ROCK (also insipid J-Pop).

Characters

Ryouma is our red-headed, pointy-haired protagonist. He's a moron who can barely scrape a living thanks to the generousity of a couple of friends (who do have proper jobs). Nobody cares about his "music". He somehow was gifted a guitar by a mysterious "master", and raising enough fuss in his inept attempts at gathering an audience that the authorities are starting to take notice. And because he's the hero, his music gives him glamour superpowers at the end of the episodes, just in time for the insert song.

"Cindy" (who resents the girly nickname) and "Doc" (who can build stuff like samurai-detectors) are two disciples of the same mysterious master who are investigating the bozo wandering around cluelessly with their master's guitar. Cue the usual misunderstandings, until Ryouma's "charm" eventually wins them over.

The authorities are also handsome dudes, because of course they are. While the top echelons are obviously EVIL, several of the rank and file look well on their way to changing sides - they certainly seem to like this new ROCK thing.

There are some female characters around. Aside from that one friendly restaurant owner (who's voiced by a guy), they're all idiots, easily fooled by the government's scheme.

Production Values

Together with Free!, this makes Wednesdays "fanservice for women" day, because there are sure a lot of handsome dudes on display here. And despite having way less excuses for taking their shirts off all the time, they do show off their abs a lot.

This is a shiny and day-glo production, because of course idols. I'm a bit wary about the CG animation for the song numbers ; not because it looks bad, but because the director is resorting to many editing tricks to use as little of it as possible, often using static shots instead. Are we already having budget problems ?

Overall Impression

Well, this is certainly a thing. It's obviously a joke, and to its credit it commits all the way to it. The problem is that it's more baffling than actually funny. It certainly isn't helped by charisma-depleted main characters, and music that's just bland J-Pop. And I'm certainly not part of the core audience.

As a rhythm game, I can see this being quite fun. As a full-blown anime series, it's just a bit tedious. One episode was way enough for me.
 

MadMac

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#7
Yeah, Bakamatsu is pretty awful. I think the music was the biggest disappointment for me, if I had any expectations before watching it. For a show with Jam in the title, you'd certainly expect better then faint snitches of J-Pop Elevator music. I'm pretty sure any random sampling of other anime not-based-around-a-band would yield vastly superior soundtracks.
 

Rainfall

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Two shows aired and I've already got one keeper. As long as the show features Miou being a crazy survivalist Kamina and the Narrator keeps dramatically not taking things seriously at all, Sabagebu! will deffinitely keep me entertained. :D

And that show is a real treat if you're an action movie fan.

Couldn't finish the first episode of Bakamatsu. It's sad, that show would have been awesome in the hands of a production team who gave a shit. Better music, a slightly better budget and a more dynamic director would have made it a classic.
 
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HDimagination

Building something out of Scrap
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Yay! New Season!

I so hope there is some good stuff coming up, Spring and Winter have left me pretty bereft. I this year so far I've only picked up Knights of Sidona and Captain Earth, and I think I'm only still watching Captain Earth out of Inertia...
 

yalborap

Well, that’s just Prime.
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Cool. This one had me really confused because I kept seeing the synopsis for C3 on Crunchy, but then a nearly identical one for this upcoming show, so I wasn't sure if it was new, a continuation, or if I was just slowly going insane from mainlining far, far too much anime the last 6 months. :) (I still suspect the latter is true regardless.)

I will likely steer clear of C3 because, well, I don't need no angst. But this sounds like fun. Hopefully it's not a big bait and switch, but I'll probably add this to my list of things to watch. Sadly don't see it streaming anywhere yet. Hopefully Crunchy picks it up.
Without derailing this thread too much, C3 is an interesting series and I wouldn't say to avoid it just out of hat. It has a real low point for the protagonist, but it ends on a serious high note for her. If you don't mind spoilers...

Spoiler: Show
The main thing it does, is it takes the idea of the Ace, that heroic warrior who stands alone at the top, and spends a chunk of time exploring what the journey and destination to that sort of thing does to you.

And then it has the protagonist, at the end of that journey, realize it wasn't what she wanted. That in the attempt to escape her weakness and fear, she'd just become someone she didn't like. She DOES, however, pull back and rediscover the fun in putting on some pads and shooting her friends with plastic BBs out in the woods. Hell, the last scene in the anime proper is her going and asking some new transfer students if they'd like to come try it out, because it's really fun.


That said, as a fan of C3, I am absolutely going to check out Survival Game Club.
 
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