After the last fantastic Spring season, the selection this Summer is rather underwhelming. I heard there are some really good series that unfortunately didn’t make it to my watchlist. So, in order to set the scope of this review, I’ll write a bit about my picks this Summer at the end. But first, I’ll go through the highlight:
Akagami no Shiraiyuki-hime (Snow White with the Red hair)
Last season I asked for something sweet and heart-warming and Akagami no Shiraiyuki-hime answered.
Coming from the high-profile Studio Bones, this series boasts fantastic visual. The hand-drawn backgrounds are glorious. They are brimming with the kind of fairy tale world the story setting, as the title “Snow White” suggested, took place in. There are still distinguishable CGs at some points and there’s a marked abuse of light effects. However, these not-really-flaws happened very briefly; I wouldn’t have noticed them had I not been looking around, taking snapshots.
I’m surprised to learn it’s based on a shoujo manga. Well, there are indeed quite a number of popular shoujo cliche in use. I mean, “a cool, handsome, young knight in shining armor who just happens to be a prince, who also just coincidentally falls head over heels with our Shiraiyuki at first sight” reeks of typical shoujo vibe. I’m not fond of shoujo characteristics, along with any emphasis of the eyes, the hair, and everything else’s details. Too much of those take away the focus from the personalities and character developments.
Fortunately, Akagami no Shiraiyuki-hime‘s author has succeeded in subverting the unnecessary details, taking the cliche in moderation and building a character-centric story that has little in common with the original Snow White fairy tale. The outcome is a familiar character build that resembles those from shounen genre and the alluring romance, along with the quality doki-doki moment, from shoujo.
Let’s be honest, Romance isn’t suited for boys.
From my personal experiences, many Shounen x Romance stories I have seen consist of 20% romance–usually reserved for much, much later–and 80% of other things; fanservice, moeblob, comedy, action, you name it. Even the top picks such as Plastic Memories (bad comedy, clumsy-girl moeblob charade) and Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (musical theme being the “other thing”) also suffered from not having enough relationship building time.
Akagami no Shiraiyuki-hime has none of the ugh! fanservice, just a little comedy to lighten up and not ruin the mood, and action scenes that bolster the affection gauge every time instead of merely showing off the main character’s arsenal.
In exchange, everything about it is very mild, to the point it’s borderline Slice of Life even though it’s a bit too eventful–really, they have a self-contained skill challenge every episode–for that genre. It’s the typical jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none. I personally enjoy the peacefulness but some viewers might appreciate a little more impact, like Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso‘s kind of impact for instance.
Well, no more tragedy drama for me.
Gakkou Gurashi! (School-Live!)
Once again, I have a special mention this seasonal review. I intended to cover only one top pick and briefly summarize the rest. However, I truly believe Gakkou Gurashi! deserves a special mention. I like the anime and I have spent days pondering whether to highlight Gakkou Gurashi! or not.
In the end, I chose not to. There is nothing wrong with the story. It’s just that after all the feels in the previous seasons, I simply don’t have anything left in me for the taking.
The anime itself is a masterpiece. It deploys the most unlikely combination. On the surface, it’s a cute-girls-doing-cute-things, slice of life, healing anime featuring candies, spice and everything nice. Once it has successfully hooked the unsuspecting preys, it flips around, revealing its break-the-cutie, disturbing, heart-wrenching nature boasting vultures, thorns and everything ugly. It’s excel at healing the broken heart with some fuwa fuwa shots before utterly and mercilessly scarring the viewers’ soul.
In a sense, this anime is comparable to the genre-breaking Puella Magi Madoka Magica. But the two series are not alike. Instead of Magical girl genre, Gakkou Gurashi! uses Slice of Life. Instead of a spiral into eternal despair, Gakkou Gurashi! uses deliberate desperation to emphasize the glimmer of hope and optimism. The two journeys were equally painful to watch but there was daylight at the end of Gakkou Gurashi!‘s dark tunnel instead of the twisted mirage Gen Urobutcher presented in Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
I’m not a fan of Horror so this series is on the edge of my comfort zone. Still, it was a good watch, full of Aesops (arguably). I myself prefer sweet, or even tasteless, medicine to bitter ones so I’m sure if I were to recommend the Gakkou Gurashi! pill, it would be because the sadist in me wanted more people to go through what I had gone through and not because of the healing after-effect.
Sad, but true story.
Extra: Seasonal Selection
As promise, these are the anime on my watchlist this season. The crossed out series were no longer considered for highlight for various reasons.
Akagami no Shiraiyuki-hime
Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri
Ranpo Kitan: Game of Lapalce
The hype this season was Charlotte. With Jun Maeda (Key Visual Arts) and P.A Works taking the helm again, the show was basically begging to be compared to their previous hit: Angel Beats! It’s safe to say that they have failed to meet the expectations.
And then, we have Chaos Dragon from our
beloved Gen “Urobutcher”. The entire thing is confusing as heck, the plot progression had many flaws; I don’t even know where to start. Most of the cast ended up dead, typical of the Butcher, but quantity is not equal to quality. Most of them had only one or two episodes of screen time to start off with, I felt nothing when they died. The saving grace of Chaos Dragon is its cool OST and the fact that it has, in my opinion, the best confession line this entire season:
Followed by 10 seconds of awe, inspiring and heart-warming. I wish the scene lasted a bit longer but I know I can’t possibly expect more love from Gen Urobuchi.
Overlord has all the potential but it was cut short. There’s something about this series that intrigues me greatly and I can’t explain what it is. Perhaps it was the action? The OST? I honestly don’t know for sure. There’s just one thing I can say about Overlord is that I’m looking forward to the second season. There must be a second season, it can’t just end like this!
GATE and God Eater are incomplete series, I will refrain from judging without seeing the end. From early observations though, GATE has a strong start but seems to be going nowhere while God Eater is the polar opposite. I had high hope for God Eater since ufotable had outdone themselves with Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works last season. However, my hope was misplaced.
Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace is creepily gory, incredibly unpleasant and excessively self-serving. It advertised itself in Detective-Mystery genre but the answers were always pulled out of the main character’s ***. No foreshadow or clue whatsoever, try as you might be, you will never solve the mystery yourselves. This series was dropped like hot potato.