Digi’s Summer 2015 Anime Roundup!

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Has 2015 enjoyed the greatest summer season in the history of anime? A better question might be: was there any competition? Up until 1998, the concept of a series starting in the summertime was practically nonexistent; and up until 2013, the summer season usually sported as little as half the number of new shows beginning compared to Spring and Fall–since it used to be that a lot of shows were 26 episodes long, and most of them started during those seasons. Nowadays, we’ve got just as many new shows coming out no matter what the season is–possibly because 26-episode shows have gotten to be so much more scarce.

Whatever the cause, 2015 just had the biggest Summer season in anime history–even out-counting the Spring season for the first time ever–and a lot of it was pretty solid. I can’t say that any one show this season could top the best of previous years–but what Summer 2015 did have is possibly the largest concentration of pretty good shows that I’ve ever seen in a single season before. Let’s see how fast we can run through my impressions of them–not including shows that continued from spring such as Food Wars, Baby Steps, and Gintama, or sequels to shows that I’m still watching the first seasons of, such as Gatchaman Crowds.

Wakako-zake was a cute little short-form series about an office lady voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro going around to different restaurants and trying Japanese food and liquor combinations. The hilariously pretentious attitude which she took towards eating correctly made it a fun watch, but my lack of familiarity with any of the dishes kept me at some cultural distance. If you’re into Japanese food and slice-of-life, then check this one out–it will barely take up half an hour of your time.

Wakaba Girl’s episodes are a tad longer at around twelve minutes, which might actually be the ideal length for this kind of sugary-sweet, cute-girls-doing-cute-things type show. It felt like a weekly medical injection for people with low blood-pressure, metaphorically speaking, and comes from the same original author is Kiniro Mosaic, which had its own second season this year. I don’t think I’ll remember anything about this series a year from now other than that it’s gimmick was a refreshingly and lovably stupid rich girl main character, and that it was entertaining enough for me to watch the entire thing.

Jitsu wa Watashi wa’s approach to romantic comedy was decidedly standard and traditional, especially in comparison to its summer season contemporaries–but it’s strange, ugly-cute character designs and heartfelt, almost innocent approach to its characters and comedy gave it a comfy and sort of endearing feel. I’d be shocked if I remember anything about this show other than the character designs and the general concept a year from now, but if you’re down to blitz through some inoffensively standard anime romcom fare, then you can do a hell of a lot worse.

Sore ga Seiyuu is the kind of show that I was destined to watch, not only as someone with an interest in how anime is produced, but as someone whose job is basically an extremely unprofessional version of the voice acting work performed by the characters. It goes without saying that you should watch this show if you’re into seiyuu (tho in that case you’ve probably already seen it), and it’s worth watching as a guided tour of the voice acting industry for anyone with an interest in the subject. Otherwise, I’d have a hard time recommending it since the narrative and characters aren’t particularly interesting; but for me it managed to be highly inspirational, and the episodic guest appearances and anison karaoke in the ending themes were a hell of a treat.

Akagami no Shirayukihime is among the most heart-stoppingly beautiful TV anime that I’ve ever seen thanks to superb color and setting design which I’ll probably remember for much longer than I do what actually happened in each episode. This shoujo fantasy romance felt like an extended prologue to a series yet to come, which may very well be exactly what it is; and depending on where things go from here it could turn into an excellent series in the long run. I was endeared to all of the characters by the end and highly satisfied by the central romance–more so by far than what was provided in the countless romcoms that I’ve been marathoning lately. Having said that, the lack of any real plot so far and general slowness of the series has left me wanting for more before I can regard it as much more than a very pretty distraction that reinforces my love for director Masahiro Ando. I’ll be looking forward to the second season which is apparently starting up next Winter.

Durarara!! technically aired the second part of season two or something–not that it really matters. I’ve gotten way past the point of having any idea what the fuck is happening in this show anymore, but it’s still enough fun that I don’t think I’ll ever stop watching it. You couldn’t possibly ask me to summarize what happened in either part of season two, but I think I enjoyed the second one more in general, if only because it had the chance to flesh out a lot of the new characters and plots which the first part introduced. I guess I’ll be looking forward to part three.

Shimoneta’s boring world where the concept of dirty jokes doesn’t exist was one of the most ingenious settings for a raunchy comedy series that I’ve seen in awhile, with an unexpected undercurrent of social commentary on how censorship turns a society into a bunch of ignorant lunatics; kind of playing out like the opposite extreme version of the film Idiocracy. Even the lengths to which the series was censored and the complaints that it received in its broadcast ended up playing well into its narrative themes. While its concept and humor were great, though, it’s characters came off half-baked, and the lack of a palpable sense of progress in the narrative made it harder and harder to care about the series as it went on. It’s hard to imagine watching another season of this if it doesn’t have some new tricks up its sleeve later on or tries to flesh out its central cast–but for now I enjoyed what I got enough to be satisfied.

Prison School is an absolute riot, with a brilliantly stupid premise that sells entirely on its execution; from the mostly-realistic-but-then-there’s-Andre character designs, to the style of “straight-faced comic insanity” that the main characters in Bakuman would be losing their shit over if they saw it. I’m aware that the manga is supposedly better, but the anime series was fantastic in its own right, with a vocal cast and soundtrack which could easily justify its existence, alongside continued proof of Tsutomu Mizushima’s brilliance as a comedy director. The opening theme was awesome, the high-tension, endless-series-of-stupid-plot-twists narrative was awesome, and I’m definitely excited to see if this show will get renewed for another season, or if I’ll have to read the manga.

Gakkougurashi was possibly the most unique and fascinating take on the genre of cutesy high school slice-of-life anime which I’ve seen in my eight years of enjoying it, all thanks to its suspenseful undercurrent of tension which insistently pervades, yet never jarringly intrudes upon, its surprisingly touching high school narrative. For now, I don’t want to give away too much about what gives the series its highlights, so I can only encourage that if you’re a fan of this genre and want to see it taken in a totally different direction from what you’re used to, then you owe it to yourself to check this series out. It’s certainly one of my favorites of the year so far.

Here’s a list of shows that I dropped which I didn’t think were all that bad, but which I didn’t have enough invested in to finish, which will remain on-screen until I finish the rest of this sentence. Here’s a list of shows that I dropped because I outright disliked them, which will remain on-screen until I finish the rest of this sentence. That about wraps up my impressions of the Summer 2015 anime season, which may or may not have been one of the best Summer seasons in anime history. Let’s hope that the fall season can bring something good to the table as well!

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