I’m not entirely sure what the hell this is but I totally approve. Momoiro Clover Z, heavy metal and the songs about Mazinger (and they seems to be about Dragon Ball as well), what’s not to like?! An interesting fact is that the drummer here appears to be Scott Travis. Yeah, that guy who plays in the unknown small band Judas Priest.

A few years ago we’d laugh at the famous line from Death Note subtitles “Just according to keikaku” but nowadays it’s becoming more and more normal to leave some words without translation even in official (crunchyroll, hidive, etc) subtitles. Who is laughing now? =) Recently we watched an anime where the parents were routinely called Otou-san and Okaa-san because why not, and in the latest episode of Bocchi the Rock the translators decided that everyone knows what seishun means anyway =) I actually think it’s a good idea, that could remove some awkwardness from translations (the same with honorifics, every time I see that -san is replaced with Mister it just feels… wrong, just leave it as is, not to mention attempts to make various Mya-nee sound more or less plausible).

Ataru’s sharing some wisdom!

I know that we’re only 3 episodes in but so far the remake of Urusei Yatsura has been fantastic! I’m so happy that the studio didn’t modernize the show itself, so we still get to see all that old-school awkward jokes but in modern graphics and with amazing seyuu. And Darlings of the world, rejoice — Lum, the best waifu from the 80s, is back!

Summer Time Render

Summer Time Render is an anime that looked all good and dandy on paper and was supposed to be right up my alley. A finished story told in mere 25 episodes, with the pretty standard now but still exciting key idea about time-rewinding, that simultaneously offered a fresh twist on who the opponents of the main characters are. The concept of the Shadows and shadow sickness was fresh enough to keep me invested during the first 10 or so episodes. Truth to be told though, the only two reasons I continued to watch the second half of the show were inertia and the lack of competition.

The first half of the anime is a pretty solid thriller. You have to guess whether this or that person is actually a Shadow and whether he or she already was one at some particular point before; Subaru Shinpei, armed with the knowledge from the previous loop, is trying to get a better outcome for everyone… fun stuff, really! Not groundbreaking but fun. The second part went full EoE though. It became much, much, much more action-oriented and kinda lost those thriller vibes, I don’t think that I had a feeling that I was about to see something unexpected during the last 10 or so episodes. The anime still would throw some facts and rules about the Shadows at you here and there, but I had already lost interest and really didn’t care whether these rules made any sense, so it was difficult to me to appreciate the brains and spunk the heroes demonstrated exploiting those rules in the face of adversity. Also, speaking of characters, surprisingly enough the cast turned out to be pretty bland. You’d think that 25 episodes should be enough to make you care for at least some of them but somehow all the people in Summer Timer Render ended up being nothing more than bunch of walking bullet point lists (“I’m a grumpy but actually nice old dude, whose wife is a Shadow”, “I’m a writer sharing the body with my long-dead twin brother”, “I’m your normal main character”), with no real personality, who didn’t give a single reason to sympathize with them.

Overall, I’d say that Summer Time Render is a disappointment. It’s not bad but it’s just sad that it had all the potential to become a good action-thriller, the one that you maybe won’t watch again any time soon but still will remember (something like Mirai Nikki comes to mind), but instead ended up being a drag.

Phantom of the Idol

Phantom of the Idol may well be the hidden gem this season. MAL users were clearly not impressed with it (the average score currently stands at about 6-something), and I think the first episode played a huge role in that, probably a lot of people dropped it immediately. Heck, I would’ve dropped it too if Nastya hadn’t convinced me to give it another chance and watch a few more episodes. At a glance this anime just didn’t have anything to differ from dozens of other idol shows. “Oh, we’re a small idol group with 2 fans but by working really hard and not giving up we’ll reach the top!” What a novel idea eh? Except that in reality Phantom of the Idol turned out to be more of a comedy than idol anime. Kind of like “If My Favorite Idol Made It to Budokan I could Die”, which was also unexpectedly awesome. I even assumed that both these anime are made by the same people but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

I have to admit though, that “Phantom” is an “one joke comedy”, that may be not for everyone. Technically, there are two jokes but you get the point. Either Niyodo does something totally inappropriate for an idol or his fans switch to full-otaku mode and start to behave like savages. I have nothing against this type of comedy if it works (Komi-san, *glaaaaare*), moreover, this show is only 10 episodes long, so there’s not much time to get tired of all that. Unfortunately, the length of the show is a double-edged sword, because even two weaker episodes can spoil the overall impression a bit. I already said that the first episode was not great but the last one was also on the meh side. The show ended in a way you’d expect, with an anniversary concert and a lot of questionable 3D during the performances. There still were some decent jokes here and there (“– I just can’t memorize the name of this song, is it In-and-Out or Out-and-In? — In-and-Out or Out-and-In, this is so deep!”) but that was certainly not the show’s finest hour. However, all things considered I’m happy that I didn’t drop this anime and it became my probably second-favorite show this season. It’s funny, short, has a great main character and there are lots of scenes with expressions like this, what’s not to like?!

Niyoda is a sniper of love. Or something

“When will Ayumu make his move?” is my guilty pleasure anime, the one that I would like to recommend to anyone, but probably will never be able to explain why exactly I’m recommending it =) Yamamoto Souichirou has an ability to create amazingly adorable characters, whether we’re talking about Takagi-san (another anime I like a lot and that’s getting better and better with every new season; and oh boy I hope that one day we’ll get either an anime adaptation of (元)高木さん or at least it’ll be released in English) or yeah, the story of Ayumu and Urushi. You can complain a lot about the total lack of plot in this anime, about the fact that you predict every Ayumu’s response perfectly, about its useless main characters, about it being maybe even too sweet and all this criticism will be perfectly valid and reasonable. Yet, it still is the only show this season that I watch as soon as there’s a new episode available =)

Spy x Family

I’m not going to write much about it. The first season of Spy x Family is a good anime, that did everything right. It’s funny enough, has likeable characters and its animation is flawless. It wasn’t my favorite show of the season, but it never felt underwhelming. Spy x Family plays safe everywhere and honestly, it’s an ideal anime for… anyone, even for people who don’t usually watch Japanese cartoons. Considering its hmm fairly minimalistic approach to the plot I’m skeptical about next seasons, because my guess is that they’ll be filled with fillers Anya’s school activities mixed with an occasional Lloyd’s mission. Or maybe we’ll finally get to see Yor at work? The authors can drag this for years and years and I’m not sure how exciting it’ll be to hear “Waku-waku” or something about peanuts for the hundredth time.

There’s certainly an upside in this anime’s popularity though. I’m super happy that more people will get familiar with Hayami Saori, Yor’s seyuu. First of all, she’s Emma in Trails of Cold Steel. More importantly though, she has such a unique voice! Usually it’s very difficult for me to recognize the voice actor/actress, even those I really like — perhaps it means that Amamiya Sora, Mitsuishi Kotono, Hayashibara Megumi, Takahashi Rie, Chiwa Saito and others do a great job — but there’s a few seyuu such as Omigawa Chiaki or Hayami-san, whose voices you can’t mistake for others, it’s always a pleasure to watch an anime with them =) Hopefully we’ll have more scenes with Yor in the second season.

I don’t have too much to write about Aharen-san but just want to make a couple of notes in the case one day I’ll need to remember why this show was good =)

The two main characters confessed and started going on in the end of the anime! A rare and always welcoming development.

The running gags with Raido being JD and coming up with another bizarre idea of why Aharen-san is doing what she’s doing. “Wait, does it mean that actually Aharen-san is into death metal?!”, “Wait, does it mean that Aharen-san wants to conquer the world as a pop-idol?!”

Paripi Koumei

Chan chan a chiki chiki ban ban… I mean it’s good to get another P.A. Works anime =) Yeah, even though I always complain about their shows I still look forward to watching every new one, because who knows, maybe it’ll be another Shirobako.

For what it’s worth, Paripi Koumei is (sadly) not Shirobako. It’s another isekai (apparently we don’t have enough of them), this time in the reversed format — Kongming, the famous strategist from the Three Kingdoms period, is resurrected in modern Tokyo. The plot is straight as an arrow: he bumps into an aspiring singer Eiko, is completely charmed by her voice and becomes her tactician/producer. We get to see about 3.5 Eiko’s performances, she becomes slightly more popular and then there’s a rivalry against an all-girls band wearing very chiki-chiki-ban-ban costumes Azalea. Yet Eiko shows that dedication to music (and having a genius on your side) is more important than revealing outfits, even the evil Azalea’s producer understands the error of his ways, everybody hugs, the end, see you in the second season. This naive story manages sometimes to become even more My Little Pony-esque, like in the last episode when the Azalea’s producer simply forgives Kongming for, basically, stealing the likes they’re hunting for from his band. Oh well.

The interesting thing about Paripi Koumei is that despite being objectively an average anime it was still fun to watch. It’s very lighthearted; the main character, Kongming, is ridiculous, in a good way; some of the supporting cast members are great, like the bar owner or Kabe’s high-school friend who got him into rap. I just wish this show had more to offer in terms of the plot and character development.

And of course I have to add this =)

BlazBlue: Alter Memory

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. If Franklin lived nowdays he’d probably add one more thing: video games adaptations being utter unwatchable garbage. Yet, here we are =)

Even though I do like BlazBlue and think that this series may be the paragon of 2D anime fighting games — I’d been burned before, so I skipped the anime based on it when it came out initially. Recently I was feeling nostalgic and bought BB: Centralfiction, just to check out how much this game has changed after all these years. A few hours here, a few hours there and I decided that why not give the anime a try?

BlazBlue: Alter Memory is pretty wild. It’s based not on one but two first games, BB: Calamity Trigger and BB: Continuum Shift, and considering that BlazBlue games have one of the most convoluted plots in the history of mankind (some probably would say that it’s ridiculously complex — damn, you can spend a few hundreds hours playing it and still have no idea what BlazBlue is) it was an impossible task from the beginning to make something reasonably coherent in 12 episodes. Neither people who have never played it nor those who have (!) will be able to get what’s going on there. Ragna chaotically moves from place to place meeting characters we know and love (fanservice, yay!), Hazama/Terumi laughs like a madman half of the screentime he gets, Noel doesn’t understand anything but she’s behaving like a good girl she is, Rachel drinks tea, Taokaka wants to eat and play. It’s better to focus on these small things and forget about the plot that the authors are pouring at us at an alarming rate.

As a complimentary material for a fighting video game Alter Memory is okay. It shows almost all the characters from the games, even though some of them, like Carl, show up for like a minute. The battle scenes are decently animated and the attacks are easily recognizable. We get to see Rachel, Noel, Taokaka and Litchi in swimsuits! That still doesn’t change the fact that this anime is for the fans only and even they should approach it with care =)