Time to start the anime summer season, hurrah! Because of this and that I wasn’t able to watch as many shows last season as I wanted, like, only four. This time I hope to do a bit better. For those of you who don’t know, or actually care, I should explain that I’m not going to watch everything, or even most things. I have my favorite genres as much as anybody else. As always, I will go mostly by the Random Curiosity preview page. And I always start each review with a screenshot of the show’s first comprehensible moment. So off we go!
We start with Island, where a guy wakes up naked on an Island called Urashima with just pieces of memory, like he’s a time traveler and he has to save a girl, and kill someone. He is discovered in embarrassing fashion by a girl named Karen, and the irritable mayor (and Karen’s dad) tells him to get the hell out. No outsiders here. He sneaks away, discovers Karen again, then is spotted by another girl, Rinne, who can’t go out in the sun and claims to be a time traveler too, takes him to her mansion and makes him a maid. Meanwhile he keeps getting flashbacks of mostly unpleasant things. Also, he keeps hearing that “Setsuna must die,” which just happens to be the name Rinne gives him. Then there’s another girl, a shrine maiden named Sara, who cutely tries to kill him. Also, someone named Rinne vanished two years ago, and other weird and mysterious things. Also, people tend to cry for no reason they can figure out.
An intriguing start, and I might watch episode 2, but frankly I found myself a little bored by episode one. Not sure why. I tend to like shows where they drop hints of mysterious things left and right, and I rather liked the businesslike tone the episode set, with the amiable but slightly ecchi Setsuna trying to put everything together. But it left me impatient for something, maybe answers. Or maybe it was the constant sounds of the sea in the background, along with the almost absent background music. Anyway, it looks like Setsuna will begin to build a harem of girls too young for him, who will either help him or try to kill him, or both.
Next is Hanebado!. I’m not really into sports anime, and I’m sure I’m missing a lot by having this view, but the excellent Sakuga Blog suggested there might be something interesting to see, at least visually. We start in a six-month flashback where we watch a girl getting destroyed in a badminton tournament match, mutterins things like “why am I even doing this?” A sentiment expressed by her mostly unseen opponent as well, as she wins 21-nil. Flash forward to the future and we see the loser, Nagisa, her school’s team captain, bullying anyone who can’t keep up with her. It’s so bad that possible new members are too scared to join, and the others are ready to quit. Switch to the tennis courts where another girl has joined the team and is having fun. Turns out her name is Ayano, and she’s the one who kicked Nagisa’s butt that day. A friend drags her, almost kicking and screaming, to join the badminton team, but she doesn’t want to join. Of course, in a move that even the characters admit is right out of a shoujo manga, Nagisa challenges her in one of those “You lose, you join” things. End of episode, please watch the exciting match in episode two.
Well, I’m still not going to watch it. The story was laid out nicely enough, and in my synopsis I left out a lot of things, like Nagisa’s understanding best friend, and the nice job they did depicting the matches (I don’t like that new coach, though), and the comparison between the big, imposing, and scary Nagisa and smaller, nice (though we get a couple of excellent death-stares out of her, thanks to Nagisa’s painful memories) We see that Ayano, a natural and gifted talent, has some personal battles she’s going to fight through, and Nagisa will struggle to reach Ayano’s level … But really it’s all routine for a sports anime, and the thrill of sports competition, no matter how well depicted, doesn’t make it for me. Not to mention the boob and butt shots … But really, nothing’s wrong with episode one if you like sports anime.
Skipping a few that I might come back for, I watched Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu, where a shut-in mook in our world is the reigning demon lord of a MMORPG called Cross Reverie. You can already guess what happens next. Yup, he’s transported to the game itself by buxom-elfen Shera and catgirl Rem, to be their slave, but he’s so powerful that the magic backfires and they become his slaves instead. They take him to a town while everyone tries to figure this all out. He meets Celes, the head mage for the city, and thus learns that Rem has the top evil boss trapped inside her. He agrees to help her out, and then some jealous mages challenge him to a fight and get beaten up. He still isn’t sure what the hell is going on, but anyway.
There are of course a lot of shows where characters get thrown into their games, smart shows like Log Horizon and goofy ones like KonoSuba. This one’s angle is that Diablo (the mook demon lord) isn’t used to dealing with people in general, much less girls, much much less really cute girls with a ton of fanservice thrown in. In order to get by, he has to play his evil Diablo role, yet he just isn’t that evil inside. So his demeanor is haughty but his actions are decent. He can’t bring himself to Ravish poor Rem (well, that’s partly his introversion) and agrees to help her with her problem. So this show will partly be about Diablo learning to interact with people. It is also, partly, an excuse to have countless girls in compromising positions, with, as I said, a ton of fanservice. That last bit might turn some people off, but I don’t mind fanservice if the story is good. This first episode is all right. I like the mix of arrogance and social inability that Diablo has. Too soon to say about the other characters.
Yume Oukoku to Nemureru 100 Nin no Ouji-sama stars, well the show keeps calling her Princess, but the RC preview says she’s Haruka, so I’ll go with that. Anyway, we start with a bishie guy floating in a purple place until he’s summoned by Haruka to this magical land. Haruka just got there herself, and since she’s an office lady in real life, she’s terribly confused, especially when this cat thing introduces himself as her butler and calls her “Princess.” Anyway, this world lives on drams, and there are dream-eater monsters going around ruining things. A lot of princes fought the monsters and got sealed into rings, and it’s Haruka’s job to free them so they can try again. They meet another bishi, Kiel, a more carefree type with memory loss. Naturally, he and the first prince, Avi wind up bickering all the time.
Well, I probably wouldn’t watch this even if the first episode had been any good. Not a fan of bishie harems. Worse, the episode just plods along, not trying to find anything new in its routine setting. Haruka is a bore, so is Navi the talking stuffed animal, and Avi isn’t much better. I will say that I enjoyed Kiel’s seiyuu work–it was about the only lively thing in the episode. However, the Princes’ bickering that we are supposed to think is cute and endearing got tiresome after the first bicker. The art and animation are just average, and the BGM often sounds like it came from a toy synthesizer. Not for me, thanks.
Shichisei no Subaru is another look at MMORPG gaming except that no one is trapped inside one, well apart from maybe … Well, this game is called Unite (at first), and an elite team of adventurers named Suburu, basically a pack of elementary school kids, who are damn near unbeatable. A little too much time is spent introducing them as they decide on a new, particularly nasty quest. While fighting the boss, one member, Asahi, sacrifices herself to save Haruto, probably because of her crush (we get a lot of character dynamics from the start–so and so likes so and so, and so on). Later, the kids learn that Asahi had died in real life at just the same time. Haruto blames himself and stops gaming until six years later a friend convinces him to try with the new version, ReUnion. He reluctantly joins them, they reach a weird dungeon and a treasure box. What’s inside it? Asahi!
So it’s different from most of these animes about gaming in that, like the Hack franchise, the characters still have active real lives. Also, the character relationships are a bit more mature, and it will be interesting to see how the characters work together after six years and the weight of the death has on them. But there’s also the sheer weirdness of Asahi in the box. Are the game developers that sick-minded? I get the idea that Haruto has to confront the past, but what an odd way to go about it! That last scene alone is enough to make me check episode 2.