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The Summer ’13 Anime: 1st Episode Impressions, Part 1

By
Posted on July 15, 2013 AT 03:32pm

Another season of anime has yet again ambushed us. Are you ready for some crazy concepts and novel ideas? I’ve color coded these shows: worth watching, meh, and suck. As always, I will not be reviewing sequels, or spin-offs, or side stories of existing anime. It’s only the brand-spanking new here. Each of these shows can be found on Crunchyroll.

Dog & Scissors – “Every Dog Has His Day”


Yes, this show is as crazy as that title. Dog & Scissors is literally about a dog and some scissors. Some kid is a total book nut. His latest literary obsession is Akiyama Shinobu, an enigmatic author who has all of Japan talking. Through the craziest and most tragic of circumstances, young Harumi Kazuhito has his life, and body, transformed. Harumi is now a dog, and there is one woman who would like to own him. Guess how this woman is related to Akiyama Shinbou!

She is a bit odd, and dangerous, but she is the only one so far who can communicate with this reincarnated book lover. So this weirdo show is actually funny at times, but the premise and the characters are so quirky that I don’t have any imagination that everyone will love Dog & Scissors.

 

Free! – “Reunion at the Starting Block”

What, you don’t want to look at high school boys swimming? Haruka Nanase is in his late teens. He loves to swim, and he’s great at it. His friends, coincidentally, all have feminine names, and also have hard swimmer’s bodies. Makoko is his closest friend, the guy who just walks through Haruka’s house like it’s no big deal. Nagisa is the smallest of the four guys. I guess he’s the character for people who like their men short, or younger looking than they actually look. Finally there’s Rin. He’s the opposing force to Haruka. He swims for competition, while Haruka originally swam just for the enjoyment of swimming.

So how’s the show? The story is a basic sports competition drama. It’s nothing amazing. This is one of the most beautiful shows of the season, though. The combination of muscular, handsome boys and alluring visuals are meant for a very specific audience, so this is a show that doesn’t have to work too hard to tell a good story. If you, however, have even the slightest problem with shirtless, sexy boys, you should already be close to the exit. I don’t prefer men, but I like well produced anime, so I’ll continue watching.

 

Gifu Dodo!! Kanetsugu and Keiji – “Kanetsugu and Keiji”

Although the show itself is set in Japan’s late 16th century, I feel that its tone is foreign in to both the past and our present. The story is about two very special men.Keji Maeda is a BIG dude, at least 6’6″. He’s also eccentric, as we learn. Being super tall must be a hiring qualification for samurai, because Naoe Kanetsugu is also a giant samurai. Naoe is also an eccentric, so these two eccentric, giant samurai go around and intervene in matters in their strange manner.

Lost of terminology and names might have your head spinning if you watch this. Fun fact: uwanariuchi (where a guy’s ex-wife gathers a female posse to attack the second wife, in an attempt to be rewarded money) is apparently a real historical ritual.In fact, most of the names and relationships thus far are based in historical fact. It’s just enhanced by the “samurai times were super badass” lens that we oftentimes find in shows of this type. If you’re a fan of samurai era anime, you have already seen numerous incarnations of these folk.

This is not a comedy, but I think Gifu Dodo!! has such an odd, silly aura about it that I don’t know whether I should come back to it or not.

 

Servant X Service -”Be Careful About How You Refer to Someone and Why

The joy of Servant X Service could have ended right after it’s colorful, detailed opening animation, but the smiles, thankfully, don’t end there. This is an anime about adults for a change. They are quirky, silly adults, but adults regardless. First, let’s meet Ms. Miyoshi. She’s new to part time work. Next is  Ms. Yamagami, an overly eager worker. Last, but never lease, is Mr. Hasabe, a guy who can handle office work with ease, but he is not a model employee at all. You mix those three, and you have a very entertaining office comedy. There are a couple tired jokes in the first ep, but I trust that Servant X Service has fresh comedy to offer.

Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class S3 – “Any Volunteers to Enlist?”


Make the show’s title a little longer, why don’t you? So Stella Women’s Academy did a proper job of totally punking me. I looked at the art for the show, didn’t read any description of it, and just went in with no idea that this is actually a girls with guns anime. I absolutely thought it was going to be about school life at a very posh school. So wrong! I am not a fan of the girls with guns subgenre. I have a few gun-toting female characters that are my favorites, but I don’t enjoy the fetishization of guns, nor the fetishization of girls shooting guns. Stella is clearly about showing high school girls go on and on about guns and action flicks while firing their own weapons.

I’m not totally dismissive of girls with guns shows, but I don’t get excited when the fire rate of a semi-automatic is explained, either. This whole concept of a bunch of self-proclaimed oddballs is tempting to watch at least another episode of, but there has to be a lot of charm in Stella to keep me for a season.

 

 

il sole penetra le illusioni ~ Day Break Illusion – “Dark Spot of the Sun”

This very sunny anime is about a girl whose head is slowly being eaten by Pac Man- oh, sorry. Day Break Illusion is actually about a girl (who has a funny haircut) who lives with her aunt, uncle, and cousin. Her Mom died of an illness, and there’s no mention of her father yet. Although her mother is gone, she at least left her with a set of tarot cards, which may come in handy now that “the wheel of fortune has turned.”

I say this is worth watching because things go terribly, terribly bad for this girl,. Akari, her friends, and her family. For as much as everyone is smiling and happy in this show, I think there’s a lot of darkness to come. Don’t let the cute character designs pull a fast one on you! Out of the few magical girl shows this summer, this one could be the best.

 

Fantasista Doll – “Uzume Uzu Uzu – A Shadow Draws Near?”

This is the other magical girl show, but our hero does not change into a magical girl. Rather, she is a former Magic: To Gather (GET IT?) champ who has come into the possession of a device that allows her to summon these magical humans- all female. Why are they all female? I think it’s to introduce more and more instances of the characters being undressed. Sure, they”re going to fight, and kick lots of butt; but if the bath scene in this episode is any indication, these girls will be stripping at a moment’s notice.

It’s cool that Uzume Uno (is her last name referring to the card game?) is a female, rather than a male. When I think of shows about card games come to life, I think of boys being the hero. I’m not sure if she’s a hero I want to follow, though. Fantasista Doll did not scream “give me more” once I finished the first episode. I think this will be, naturally, a tournament show, where colorfully dressed enemies pop up constantly.

Chronicles of the Going Home Club – “Going Home Club Applicants”

Are you ready for some seal facts?

The easiest type of anime to make, it seems, is one about a student club that’s not really dedicated to a specific theme. The Going Home Club is for people who…have a great desire to go home? Why would a school club be named that? It’s called the Going Home Club, but what they do is just goof off and share things about one another. In this episode, our lead girl finds herself applying to the Going Home Club, a club that tried to recruit students by putting a girl in a seal costume.  Um, yeah. I am not over the moon about Going Home Club, but at least I learned something because of it. You know what that stray, long strand of hair you see sometimes in anime? It’s called an ” ahoge” which basically means “dumb hair” So it’s basically the reverse of Superman’s cowlick. You learn something every day! If you have an ahoge fetish, maybe this show will be your one to watch.

 

KINMOZA! – “…in Wonderland”

How can I hate this show? It’s so lovely and delightful! We’ve all seen shows where there are transfer students, but at least we get a different hook to that conceit. A Japanese girl takes part in a foreign exchange program. She stays with an English family who has a little girl. When both girls grow up, the English girl loves Japan so much that she decides to come to Japan, enrolling in the same school as her first Japanese friend attends. I really don’t need to say anything else about this show. To judge it too harsh would be akin to punching a baby. OK, maybe just a little jab. Kinmoza doesn’t have access to the best casting, so when people speak English, it’s not quite so delightful. I can barely get mad at Kinmoza, though. It’s a nice show for nice people.

 

The Eccentric Family – “Goddess of the Noryoyuka”

Ahh, the delicate balance between Tengu, Tankuki and Humans living amongst each other. Oh, didn’t know that Tengu and Tanuki had a tough time getting along? Neither did I. So the easiest way to describe The Eccentric Family would be to call it The Munsters in anime form. That comparison makes sense because our young Tanuki narrator hangs around and looks after an old guy, who’s actually a tengu. They both have a relationship with a human woman who has learned how to fly as tengu do. Add in this young tanuki’s older brother and you create the titular family.

The Eccentric Family only explains what it wants to explain to its audience;  it might explain the rest to you, if it plans to at all. It’s fine that we are just tossed into their lives, because we shouldn’t be spoon-fed a whole dossier for every character who pops onscreen. So even though I know so little about this raccoon dog/boy/girl and his human/tengu family, I’m absolutely happy to learn.

 

More 1st episode impressions are coming very, very soon. Next, the wrap-up of Crunchyroll’s Summer offerings.

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