I decided to watch the first episode of every single summer anime and report back on my findings. When I realised there were twenty-six in total though, I made a few rules. Mainly, that I wouldn’t have to watch the entire episode. Just long enough to decide whether to keep watching or to ditch it. I decided to watch just three series in the end, while one anime didn’t last thirty seconds. Read on to find out which ones they were.
I found out a lot about what I like. Strong pre-credits openings with meaningful action or atmosphere work for me, particularly if the next glimpse of the protagonist’s “normal life” has something equally exciting about it. Girls tripping over their own feet, forced wackiness, early exposition and stupid porn are quick turn-offs.
Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Ni (Second Season)
Hook: Akihisa has a wacky life.
Stopping Point: 2 minutes, 30 seconds.
Wow, look at all these wacky characters! They’re so wacky they even go into super-deformed mode! Aren’t you impressed by how wacky they all are?
In short, no. No, I am not. I didn’t even make it to the opening sequence. I didn’t even watch enough to find out what it was actually about. You see, the opening sequence consisted of a brother and sister both utterly removed from reality and yet generic. Each character has an amusing quirk chosen from a master list of amusing quirks. I don’t care if it later turns out that the boy has decided to summon monsters to fight for his underperforming class (I Googled), just make him believable or worth watching.
Verdict: I’m annoyed I spent two minutes on this.
Official Site: Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Ni (Second Season)
Hook: Saya is a shrine maiden who hunts vampires with a katana. Designs by Clamp.
Stopping Point: 3 minutes, 20 seconds.
The pre-credits and opening song are beautiful, mixing iconic Shintou imagery with katana fights and blood, using a muted palette. There’s even this short sequence where the bloodied heroine stands in front of the moon and catches the katana scabbard with the katana itself. In short, it promises a cool, tough female protagonist. On with the rest of the show.
Saya is meditating in full miko garb, when her father enters the room. She runs to him and trips over her own feet.
Oh. It’s that kind of show. Forget it.
Verdict: Why are they always clumsy? Why?
Official Site: BLOOD-C
Hook: From Marvel Comics in the US, a man with both human and vampire heritage fights vampires in Japan.
Stopping Point: Made it to the end!
This is pretty much identical to BLOOD-C, without the Shintou theme. And yet… Blade doesn’t trip over his own feet. I don’t know what he’s doing in Yokohama rather than New York, but I can live with that. It means he gets a tough Japanese woman as his sidekick, who doesn’t trip over her own feet either.
The budget is obviously very low for this one though, which you can see when the vampires burst into poor-quality flames. Or when Blade tries to walk. This is unfortunate, since the draw should be the fight scenes. There are a couple of good but short sequences, but then they throw in some backgroundless, minimally animated frames to pad it out.
Verdict: Poor quality animation lets down a potentially interesting story.
Official Site: BLADE
Dantalian no Shoka
Hook: Animation by Gainax, clothing by Baby The Stars Shine Bright / Alice and the Pirates.
Stopping Point: 6 minutes, 45 seconds.
I recently saw Thor, so the opening reminded me of the rainbow bridge sequences from the movie. After that, this anime moves into the English countryside. The music combined with scenery from my home country was rather pleasant and I didn’t even notice I’d tuned out the main character’s monologue. Huey – the main character – likes sheep, and I can relate because I went to university in Scotland.
Despite being by Gainax, the animation is pretty bad. The main characters are very simply drawn, but with blurred photographs used as backgrounds. Sometimes it works, mostly it doesn’t.
I gave up just after Huey meets Darian and she hits him. Same old, same old.
Verdict: There is nothing new here except BtSSB dress designs.
Official Site: Dantalian no Shoka
Hook: Imagine yourself interacting with real Japanese schoolgirls! Or any woman at all, really.
Stopping Point: 1 minute, 40 seconds… 4 minutes, 30 seconds (Sorry, trainwreck syndrome)
Idolmatster was originally a creepy computer game where you taught a number of teen girls how to be idols. The developers of this anime subsequently had to ask themselves, ‘Without the interactive training element, how can we still make this creepy?’ They did it by making it ‘documentary style’ to pull ‘you’ into the action. This is actually a pretty interesting idea, but you’ve still got a fundamental concept flaw; you’re making wank material about barely-teenage girls.
And yes, they trip over their own feet.
Verdict: Too many people don’t see the above as a flaw. *shiver*
Official Site: Idolm@ster
Ikoku Meiro no Croisée: The Animation
Hook: A young Japanese girl explores nineteenth century France.
Stopping Point: 5 minutes, 15 seconds.
Yune arrives in 19th century Paris. She’s beautiful and, notably, is the only bright thing in the place. She also does this crazy thing called ‘a bow’ and it’s clear she should be admired by everyone for being so awesome and unique. In other words, a Mary Sue. At least she doesn’t trip over her own feet.
However, I was impressed by the (muted) backgrounds and French pronunciation.
Verdict: I thought this would be slow, but interesting. It isn’t.
Official Site: Ikoku Meiro no Croisée: The Animation
Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi
Hook: A boy is kissed by a vampire and has to stop a completely different vampire with the help of his classmates.
Stopping Point: 5 minutes.
I liked the colours for the opening scene. Lots of pinks, purples and blues. Not a bad change of pace for a scene featuring a vampire. I had high hopes for this anime based on the artwork.
But eventually we have to get to the main story. It’s not too bad really, it’s just been done before. It’s yet another anime set in a high school and we have yet another meek and mild Japanese schoolgirl. I was looking forward to seeing the other characters (Fukuyama Jun has a role), but I’m just not interested enough.
Verdict: Nothing about the characters stand out, but the art is rather nice.
Official Site: Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi
Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel ~Kyunkyun ☆ Tokimeki Paradise~
Hook: Magical girls fight crime.
Stopping Point: 3 minutes, 30 seconds
This is clearly not my kind of anime as I’m neither a young girl nor an older man, but it’s doing everything right. Starts out with a action sequence with the girls in costume, then moves onto human interaction that is actually relevent to what we just saw. It’s no Madoka Magica, but then what is?
I’m not going to diss it for being based on a video game based on a pachinko machine because, hey, Pirates of the Caribbean.
Verdict: Competent magical girl stuff. Nothing special.
Official Site: Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel ~Kyunkyun ☆ Tokimeki Paradise~
Hook: Singing Shintou God-robots.
Stopping Point: Right to the end and onto the next episode!
We have a winner! It starts off with a battle showcasing the robots, then moves to the human drama in Kabukicho, Shinjuku, with hints there is something more to come. The backgrounds here are so detailed that you can even pinpoint the precise junction where they are standing. Unlike Dantalian no Shoka, the characters blend in well as both the colours and drawing style match.
Our protagonist is Kuga Kyouhei, who has moved to Tokyo to escape village life and something more. This means he’s not a clueless idiot (mostly) and already knows his shrine maiden sister has a robot-God called Kukuri. He’s a bit clumsy, but let’s ignore that for now. Everything else was there, so it didn’t put me off.
Kukuri first makes his appearence by rising up into the elevator from below, singing a simple song. That kind of introduction kind of reminded me of Gantz, and the setting somehow triggered flashbacks to Bokurano, so I don’t believe all is well. I certainly hope not.
Verdict: I’ll be watching this one.
Official Site: Kamisama Dolls
Kamisama no Memochou
Hook: Fujishima makes some NEET new friends.
Stopping Point: 21 minutes, 11 seconds (roughly halfway)
Fujishima’s life is dull. He moves from school to school without making friends. One day, a high school girl falls out of a love hotel and a bunch of NEET kids deal with her and mock him.
He is befriended by Shinozaki, who (re)introduces him to the kids he met before. They each have their own quirks, although it’s more varied than most anime with “wacky casts”. There’s a military otaku who looks like a kid and a pimp, amongst others.
And then there’s Alice. Weak, with a narcissistic personality disorder, she imagines that the only thing allowing natural disasters and suffering in the world is her lack of power. I stopped right there. That, along with still having no idea what a NEET actually is after twenty minutes, caused me to give up.
Verdict: Twenty minutes in and no hint of a plot.
Official Site: Kamisama no Memochou
Stopping Point: 40 seconds.
This is a hentai anime all about breasts. I was totally prepared for that. But that doesn’t have to mean rape.
Verdict: Boobs and rape.
Official Site: Manyuu Hikenchou [Not Safe For Work]
Hook: When their sister dies, twin brothers must search for the elusive penguindrum, with the help of invisible penguins.
Stopping Point: 3 minutes, 15 seconds.
An opening monologue about life, in which stars twirl all over the screen. There is nothing remotely enticing, but at least it’s short. It appears to be a slice of life anime about two twin brothers, their sister and stars sparkling all over the screen. I only know better because I read the Wikipedia entry.
Verdict: Shame, the hook was so promising. But the penguins should be introduced as soon as possible.
Official Site: Mawaru Penguindrum
Hook: Teenager forced to crossdress realises all she really needed was a man to allow her to express her femininity.
Stopping Point: 19 seconds… then 3 minutes, 50 seconds… then 5 minutes, 5 seconds… Because I hate life and all things beautiful.
The plot is enough to make me write ’0 seconds’ and be done with it. The promise of a girl forced to crossdress and maintain that secret by acting cool and awesome (moe!!) only to have that layer peeled away by a boy and have her girliness revealed (super-moe!!!) is enough to make me vomit. It says a lot about what the writers think women really are at their root.
I’m sure that in any conversations that result from this anime, the term ‘reverse trap’ will be thrown around like using it is a badge of honour. It’s not. It’s offensive. Outside of most anime, nobody is trying to fool anyone. It’s just who we are.
Onto the anime. Man… girls hitting their brothers like that is so nineties. Almost stopped there. And, wow, Kinjirou’s friend thinks he’s gay because Kinjirou doesn’t like being touched by girls. That’s hilarious.
The final nail in the coffin was Kinjirou walking in on Subaru peeing sitting down with her frilly panties showing. If I hadn’t read a summary of this already stating that Subaru is a girl forced to crossdress, I’d probably have passed out from sheer ticked-offedness.
Verdict: You’re not necessarily a bad person if you like this kind of stuff. But you might be.
Official Site: Mayo-Chiki!
Morita-san wa Mukuchi.
Hook: A young girl doesn’t say much.
Stopping Point: All the way through. It’s only five minutes.
A girl talks at her friend about boys. Friend never responds except during internal dialogue to remind herself to listen better.
It was meaningless. But short. Hey, not too shabby!
Verdict: Extremely short slice-of-life. Nothing amazing or offensive or meaningful.
Official Site: Morita-san wa Mukuchi.
Natsume Yuujinchou San (Third Season)
Hook: A boy releases youkai’s names from his grandmother’s “Book of Friends”.
Stopping Point: All the way through.
This is a lovely anime. I thought it might be difficult to get into because it’s the third season, but it’s not a problem at all. They explained it all as they went, probably a little more than they needed.
Verdict: I probably won’t keep following it, but it seems to work well as a stand-alone episode. Generally, I want to see evidence of a plot arc before I decided to follow something though.
Official Site: Natsume Yuujinchou San (Third Season)
Hook: Catgirl goddesses.
Stopping Point: 3 minutes, 30 seconds.
This is just not my anime. The humour is forced, with sound effects written out onscreen and sudden ‘lightning’ backgrounds when characters get angry. The characters are moe and well-designed for maximum appeal (they’re catgirls), so I’m sure there’s plenty of fans prepared to overlook the rest.
Verdict: Someone will love this. I’m not that someone.
Official Site: Nekogami Yaoyorozu
Hook: A bromance blooms between an elite kid and a runaway in a dystopic future. Somewhere, the Moon Tears are falling…
Stopping Point: All the way through.
Excellent example of a good start. The action sequence was followed by a scene from ‘normal life’ which superficially resembles our world, but is hinted to be otherwise. This is never stated aloud and the characters don’t have long, forced conversations about information they both know, but we get the picture.
I’m not clear about whether Shion was visualising himself floating above the city at the start or if it’s a power that he has. I think the former, but I’m still not sure. Either way, just a few minutes in, the anime has indicated that this is an anime set in a near-future dystopia and a typhoon is coming. The anime does well with that eerie feeling just before one hits.
I love that they say that Tsuki no Shizuku (Japanese for moon drops? Moon tears?) is crying without any explanation. That’s for future episodes, presumably.
Verdict: Another winner! I’ll be watching this one.
Official Site: NO.6
Nurarihyon no Mago ~Sennen Makyou~ (Season Two)
Hook: A half-human, half-youkai helps humans and makes friends
Stopping Point: 2 minutes, 20 seconds.
Surrounded by yamabuki (a type of yellow mountain rose), a man in soft-focus and traditional dress recites a famous tanka and is stabbed to death by a katana-wielding woman. The opening credits roll and they don’t have a catchy J-pop song. This sets the tone for what will be surely be a serious, dramatic anime.
…the hell!? Super-deformed characters and the laughter of children?
If you’d seen the previous series, you might have been expecting that. This might even be a pretty funny psyche-out for you. I leave at this point.
Verdict: This is clearly not for those who haven’t seen season one. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Official Site: Nurarihyon no Mago ~Sennen Makyou~ (Season Two)
Nyanpire: The Animation
Hook: Cat becomes vampire becomes vampire cat.
Stopping Point: All the way through. It’s very short.
Very cute, designed by a committee for maximum appeal. It would be great filler between anime shows on cable or at conventions, but you wouldn’t really sit down and watch it.
Verdict: Show this one to the goth cat-lover in your life.
Official Site: Nyanpire: The Animation
OGA: Onigokko Royale
Unable to watch this one. Probably for the best…
Official Site: OGA: Onigokko Royale
Hook: Schoolgirl lolimoe crap.
Stopping Point: 23 seconds.
Twenty three seconds! A new record is set! It starts with an almost empty school. In one classroom, a teacher clutches a note saying a pupil wants to meet with him. She writhes nervously and it’s clearly love confession time.
She lifts her skirt.
Does no one know how to confess their interest in another human being? Good grief! If you’re immature enough to be communicating through cryptic notes to Teacher, then this is the wrong approach.
Verdict: I’m not offended, just thoroughly annoyed with how stupid this was.
Official Site: R-15
Hook: Moe girls play basketball.
Stopping Point: 3 minutes, 30 seconds.
The pre-credits hook was great and I actually settled in to finish this to the end. Sure, it was lolimoe, but the girls were playing basketball and doing great. There was a mini-cliffhanger too — will she make the shot in time?
I even sat through the electronic, high-pitched opening song. And then came the title card: The Elementary School Kids are Coming! Hey Hey Hey!
Wait, are they elementary school kids? It’s impossible to guess their age due to the drawing style. The anime moves on to their dressing room, providing coy shots of them slipping into French maid outfits. I’m feeling distinctly uncomfortable.
An older boy arrives and they greet him dressed as maids. He asks if they’re the basketball team and I turned off. I remembered I was still watching because I had been promised an anime about a girls’ basketball team and I didn’t get that at all. They didn’t even show the result of the opener, whether she makes the shot or not. This is because this isn’t really about basketball at all.
I looked up this show on Wikipedia and it turns out they are, indeed, elementary school kids. I cannot get this anime away from me quickly enough.
Verdict: Lolimoe crap.
Official Site: Ro-Kyu-Bu!
Hook: Maid snipers! A butler mecha pilot who is also the president of the student council! Ninja-pirate-zombie-robots!
Stopping Point: All the way through!
One of the first things that caught my attention was that it wasn’t set in Tokyo. Despite enjoying anime where the production team have clearly gone round a specific area and photographed it from every possible angle (Ikebukuro in Durarara!! or Shinjuku in Kamisama Dolls, for example), I like anime set outside of the capital too.
Luckily, the boy started manifesting his powers through a hole in his head like a unicorn, so I could pretend that I had a legitimate reason to keep watching other than a briefly-glimpsed butler.
Next up was a sniper organisation exclusively manned by French maids. Unlike Ro-kyu-bu, I didn’t turn off. First, they’re adults and it didn’t feel like fanservice (gratuitously quirky, sure, but not gratuitously gratuitous). Second, they seemed capable and didn’t trip over their own feet. Third, we weren’t just going through the motions. It was an odd detail that genuinely amused me.
Still, this is very silly stuff, so I’m going to stop– Wait, what was that?
HOLY CRAP THE BUTLER IS DRIVING A TANK MECHA THIS IS AWESOME
Hey, I’m only human.
Verdict: I’m waiting for the dinosaurs to show up. There’s gotta be dinosaurs in this, right?
Official Site: Sacred Seven
Hook: Salaryman adopts an ophan.
Stopping Point: 2 minutes, 20 seconds.
Starts off slowly, with an unusual animation style and a muted pallet, just like a low-budget Ghibli film. And then… Sorry, I just can’t.
You see, what has been seen cannot be unseen. And I know the ending to the manga.
When I see fans squeeing about how cute this anime is and how adorable that this thirty year-old single man adopts a cute six year-old orphan, I wonder if I should tell them or not. I mean, no one likes surprise spoilers, but this is probably something they need to know.
Reader, he marries her.
Verdict: I can’t watch this, knowing the ending.
Official Site: Usagi Drop
Uta no ☆ Prince-sama ♪ Maji LOVE1000%
Hook: Rich boys dancing and singing.
Stopping Point: 4 minutes, 15 seconds.
I thought I might enjoy this for the sheer campiness of the plot and characters, but it seems that Sacred Seven has already filled that niche for me. Plus, the characters are all really annoying.
If I want to watching something campy with singing, dancing and developed characters, I’ll just go to Musical Tennis no Oujisama.
Verdict: Hahahahaha… no.
Official Site: Uta no ☆ Prince-sama ♪ Maji LOVE1000%
Hook: It’s yuri.
Stopping Point: 30 seconds, just to make it clear it’s not worse than R-15.
This is the last one and I’m done. I just can’t take any more wacky slice-of-life moe schoolgirls who wake up and look at their adorable alarm clock and rush off to school and–
Anyway, I’m done. Yes, even though they’re apparently crushing on each other rather than the male flavour of the month.
Verdict: No more.
Official Site: Yuruyuri