I Know What You Watched Last Summer: Summer 2010 Anime Guide

hisuiconI have to say that once again moe continues to remain at the manageable levels. There are still pure moe shows and moe has crept into most shows but the levels are heading towards acceptable again. And considering the market I can accept that. I can’t say that I was super excited to watch anything this season. There are some good shows this season but nothing grabbed me in a way that I had to watch it. But I found several series to watch and hopefully enjoy. As always with any of our seasonal anime guides there are a few exceptions to the shows we write up. We don’t talk about sequels and we avoid anything that looks utterly dire unless we decide to bet on a dark horse despite a somewhat questionable premise.

From zombies to spirits to the all encompassing occult, the theme for this anime season, if a pattern can be found, seems to be supernatural. This is not exactly my favorite genre and even beyond those shows I can’t say I was extremely excited for anything. But this may also have to do with coming off a very strong spring season. Anywho, remember that these impressions are based on first episodes only!

Seikimatsu Occult Academy

hisuiconThis was probably the best show I watched this season. It is a consistent blend of  comedy and supernatural action. At first the series seems like it is going to be a serious business supernatural horror show but as soon a Maya Kumashiro meets the assistant principle you realize that there is a distinctly humorous element to the show.  So while we have a decapitation with ax we also have a janitor cold-cocking a glasses girl. Maya seems to be a mixture of Mulder and Scully. She is knowledgeable about a wide array of supernatural lore but seems mostly interested in destroying it or disproving it’s existence. The first episode was solid so I hope that keeps up the momentum with both the action and the comedy and makes sure neither of them trips over the other. I did notice that we have not been formally introduced to the other main character of this series so I have to wonder if he will add or detract from my interest in this series.

The right amount of attitude and humor collide in Occult Academy as Maya is summoned to what I can only assume is to take over the position of principal of the school in her father’s absence. Things go a bit awry upon Maya’s arrival pushing her into action showing us she has both physical skill and a huge capacity for knowledge about the occult. This first episode sets a nice pace which gives us enough tidbits to whet our appetites for the mysteries surrounding the school, murder, and all things supernatural ending on a curious note as well. I also found the characterization of Maya succinctly laid out making her a well-realized character in under 30-minutes. This especially comes through when she is remembering some bits of her childhood. We are mildly introduced to the rest of the cast including an old friend of Maya’s and a bad-ass janitor named Smiley. The scary and the comedy are balanced nicely even jumping into one another at points which can be a real challenge. This show easily stood out and makes it a no-brainer to check out more.

High School of the Dead

hisuiconWell that was exactly what I expected it to be. This means two very important things. The first is that if this does poorly I truly fear for the anime industry. This has a combination of fan service and zombies that should guarantee it sales and downloads. The second thing I have no urge to ever watch another episode. Why? Because I really don’t like zombie movies but I am apparently in the minority as every convention you go to has a “How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse” that is always jam packed. For everyone who eats those panels up this show delivers in spades. We start with zombie killing and fan service right out of the gate. Then there is a quick attempt to show us some insight into the main characters in a flash back then story  jumps right to zombie attack. It is an orgy of girls being eaten in a rather sexual fashion, people freaking out, and zombies get their heads whacked off.  I thought it seemed really predictable  but I think most zombie films that are not Shaun of the Dead are like that. I don’t care for the show one bit but I’m thankful it will surely pull some cash into the industry.

This is a tough show to go into without some opinion of what it is going to be and whether or not you will like it. I went in thinking I don’t care about this and that I won’t like it, I was right. The story is fairly simple as the school is attacked and most of the people who survive are the hottest girls, though I wonder what, if any, explanation for the zombies arriving there will be. Sex and violence, a common package, but the combining of the two into one moment was nothing less than disgusting at parts in this show. Overly detailed panty shots as zombies ate their flesh, no thanks. There was a lot of implied violence too, almost trying to trick you, for example you must bust heads in order to kill zombies but every time it happens there is a cut away to just a blood spatter. As someone who enjoys a good violent anime, I wasn’t that impressed with High School of the Dead where the actual fighting came second to the fan-service. But even if that wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t watch this show because zombies are about the least interesting villains ever. All that being said, I think Section 23 is brilliant for getting this right away.

Shukufuku no Campanella

hisuiconWow. Despite the fact that quite a few things happened in this episode over all nothing really happened. Leicester collects a huge harem of fantasy girls go to a festival with him to watch a meteor shower. All the girls hang off him including his busty mom. At then very end a mysterious girl comes down with the meteor shower and calls Leicester her father. If it were not immediately obvious this is based on an ero game. There is not much for me to talk about other than me cracking jokes like the fact that it seems like the main girl is carrying around a yaoi paddle or that the only female that Leicester seems to cuddle up to is his mom. But NOTHING HAPPENED. No conflict was introduced. I learned more about the little mechanical puppets than any of the cast or the world. I felt like a typical episode of K-On! had as much fantasy adventure. There seemed to be some fighting and maybe some actual plot in the next episode but I will never find out what that plot is.

I just want to point out that I only watched this show because it has a fantasy setting, I had to check it out eventhough 10 to 1 it was going to be less than stellar. It’s not my fault, okay! Alright, that makes it sound more dire than it actually was. Campanella was on the whole: boring. The most entertaining moment was probably the puppetshow and that basically didn’t involve the cast. This might go without saying since it is based on a ero game but the main character is utterly bland and dull. He isn’t a bad looking guy but I’d be hard pressed to tell you a distinguishing personality trait about him. The girls run the gamut with the added bonus of his mom (or maybe this is frequent?). This episode did remind me of the opening to an RPG where everything is hunky-dorey then boom something crazy happens and the adventure begins. The only problem being nothing dire really happened! So who cares!

Shiki

hisuiconYou can pretend this is a romantic comedy about a Megumi Shimizu, a small town girl who dreams of making big in the city. You might believe that if you miss the last half of the episode. And skip the opening. In fact the opening makes it pretty clear that you might not want to get too attached to a majority of the cast. As soon as someone moves into the incongruous castle on top of a hill it is clear that supernatural events will start occurring that will surely be detrimental to the population of this small town. The story seem to be building a mystery but like all mysteries it’s often hard to tell what your feelings on the show are going to be until you get a better sense on how well crafted it is. As far as I can tell each episode might be a vignette about someone in the town with each story being a piece of the greater story like in Boogiepop Phantom. But that is only my speculation based on the ending of this episode. I can’t guarantee this show will be good but it seems to be worth keeping your eye on for now.

This show is a bit freaky, and certainly the most fastened to the horror genre of the supernatural bunch this season, heck even that image is freaking me out! From the first scene to the opening song the mood is set for the unnerving. There is a large cast of characters scene in the opening though we only glimpse a few in this eccentric and bizarre first episode. Megumi lives in a small town that she loathes as her diva-like spirit longs for the big city. The two things that draw her attention are a boy with sideburns that rival Go Nagai characters and a large European estate on the outside of town but otherwise she is ignores the rest of her surroundings. There is a bit of humor but the strong sense of melancholy and foreboding is unshakable. And of course a new group of people begin to occupy the large mansion by episodes end. Though intriguing this first installment is unclear on a few counts including who is the main character and what the format of the show is going to be. But that only furthers my curiosity, atleast for the moment.

Ookamisan to Shichinin no Nakamatachi

hisuicon This series is not a sequel to Toradora! despite what the character designs might make some people think. It is about a organization at school that solves the student’s problems … for a price. This a utterly fluffy romantic comedy with a little bit of action. The unique twist is that everyone in the show is based on various fairly tales characters from Little Red Riding Hood and Morgana Le Fey to Orihime and Urashima Taro. The first mission is clearly a parody of Cinderella and I assume all their mission will have a modified fairy tale theme. Sadly nothing in the show is extremely fresh. We have the tough girl who is secretly a good person, the shy guy with hidden power, and the lovable small girl with some hidden bite. But despite hardly being original the show is amusing. I got a good laugh out of several of the jokes including how our “prince charming” looks for his chosen “princess”.  Satomi Arai also gives some nice snark to her role as the narrator. A solid comfort food show if I ever saw one. I am curious if anyone can explain why the wolf themed Ryouko has kitty cat boxing gloves?

I had fun watching this show, that is sort of the gist of it. There is a school club all about assisting others in their pursuits, but don’t be fooled they fully expected to be repaid with interest. There are a number of different personalities at work most prominently the boxing and a bit yankee-like Ryouko and mildly devious Liszt who run as a team. Plus the debilitatingly shy Ryoushi who gets recruited to the club after confessing to Ryouko. There is also an antagonistic narrator who at first is amusing, but begins to wear on you as she continually makes the same joke. The club is a wacky bunch and their approach to help is eccentric at the very least but makes for great laughs. And in the end they succeed beyond their client’s expectations! I did find it a bit heavy handed with Ryouko’s clear as crystal archetype which then is put into words out right by Ryoushi expressing how he knows her attitude is just to hide her true self, like we needed that spelled out, really? But a good time was had and that was really the aim.

Nurarihyon no Mago

hisuiconIt is easy to say that a show is instantly forgettable but I am actually having a hard time remembering what happened in this show a few days after watching it.  is the next in line to take over his family of youkai but only has 1/4 youkai blood. So he must balance his normal human life and friends with his responsibilities to the demon world. Rikuo also seems to have a much more powerful demon form but we have only seen hints of it so far. There is nothing really bad about this show. The characters are not annoying but they don’t really stand out as well. Rikuo’s stand out quality is that he has no stand out qualities other than his demon blood. Which is also a good way to describe this show. There is nothing offense about it but equally so there is nothing compelling to watch it as well. Just go and watch Kekkaishi if you need a shonen youkai anime instead.

The promotional art for this series didn’t really prepare me for what it actually is since the main character, little guy with the glasses up there, is pretty much never pictured. In this scenario modern day middle-schooler Rikou is the latest heir in his family’s long line of youkai blood. But he has no interest in becoming the head of the family, though I am unsure of what it entails. We do know that his house is practically a boarding house for more than a few youkai who are by far the most entertaining bunch in the series. Rikou doesn’t realize he has a powerful spirit in him, but if can manifest in dire moments. Where you think the youkai are going to cause trouble or a bit of mischief it isn’t enough and everything else is just so average. So middle of the road that it was forgettable.

Tono to Issho

hisuiconThat was weird. I am surprised anyone picked this up because it is so very Japanese. It is Japanese language puns about Japanese history. All of which were either not funny or flew right over my head. Narutaki threw out the theory that maybe it is supposed to be capitalizing of the popularity of Hetalia: Axis Powers which makes sense but I don’t think it is going to work. But it shows you that companies are willing to try licensing some extremely unusual stuff when it is in a streaming format.

Well, one-minute theater indeed! We watched it twice just to try to decipher what was going on. Bizarre humor and history come together in this show. But as with many Japanese comedies, but we usually don’t get the view them, the humor relies on you knowing a thing or two about the language because puns abound! Upon the second viewing I got a couple of laughs, however the appeal of this show to the general audience seems close to zero percent.

Legend of Legendary Heroes

hisuiconDespite it’s silly name this is a respectable fantasy anime based on a series of  light novel series. Filling the hole for people who want humorous fantasy adventure but are tired of watching their copies of Slayers and Scrapped Princess. It has  humor when Ryner Lute and Ferris Eris go out and try to find legendary artifacts while it has political intrigue as the King who has sent them out tries to reform the land. Ryner and Ferris seem like an enjoyable pair and they are the classic wizard and warrior combination. The comedy was not spectacular but it did it’s job. The political aspect comes out of the gate pretty strongly which could set this series apart if done correctly. We also know that there are demons and other evil things lurking in the shadows which could give us some good fights. I am curious to see how it pulls everything together. I do have to say there seems to be a awful number of spin off series from the main series as well so this could turn into a popular franchise if it is done well.

The 90’s feel of this series was evident from just the opening and it carried through the episode which got me very nostalgic. We meet Ryner as he is surrounded by a group of soldiers, but before he does any major damage to them with his magic, Ferris steps in. Apparently, the two are on a quest for heroic artifacts in secret but they aren’t the most inconspicuous pair. They constantly butt heads throughout the episode giving the show some mild comedy. Elsewhere we see Sion, the king, and the beginnings of political turmoil. I am really intrigued by the court plot more and Sion so far is the most engaging character as well but it is obvious both lines of narrative are related to each other. It dabbles in a little of everything which keeps the first episode from being really strong though it was entertaining enough. I thank my luck stars that there is a fairly entertaining fantasy anime this season!

Seitokai Yakuindomo

hisuiconOh boy oh boy. This show invokes a strange cognitive dissonance in me. It is has an extremely bawdy sense of humor but almost no fan service. The sexual nature of this show is unmistakable.  There is a TABLE of censored dildos vibrating on a desk in the opening. But there are no panty flashes or cleavage shots so far. This might be an interesting formula expect for the fact that the jokes are not funny. Almost every jokes falls flatter than a crepe. Since the story revolves around a guy at what was recently an all girl school most of the cast will be female.The show did not seem to play up the harem aspect of the show but Takatoshi Tsuda is still a bland self insertion character. Seitokai Yakuindomo is clearly based on a 4-koma manga and makes no attempt to disguise it’s origins and adapt for anime. This is the anime version of Andrew Dice Clay. Vulgar comedy relying on their shock value to be amusing. Also like Andrew Dice Clay if I never see this again it will be too soon. There are few greater sins than unfunny comedy.

When a series opens with a guy on his way to a recently turned co-ed girl school, you think you know what is going to happen. But somehow Seitokai isn’t just one big harem fantasy sequence after the other, though they do reference it. For the alleged reason of helping to integrate boys into the school Takatoshi is forcibly admitted, by the other members, to the student council. Here they seem to torment him by randomly inserting graphic sexual language into conversations. Right. Yeah. I laughed a couple of times but overall just found the series bland and it was already recycling gags within the first episode. This show was kind of interesting for the non-fan-service, but unfortunately that didn’t make the jokes funny.

Moyashimon (live action)

hisuiconMoyashimon is an ideal show to adapt into a live action TV series. The humor already has live action sensibility. This makes the series flow and sound much like the original manga. While there is a weird element to the series CG is now cheap enough to making adding the bacteria is simple and affordable (maybe not cheap but affordable). I did notice they speed up the pace of the story from how it is in the manga and they seem to have at least delayed the appearance of Kei Yuki. But overall is still feels like Moyashimon up to them including the ultra gross kiviak scene. I am always surprised how much they go out of their way to cast actors who look like the characters in any anime they adapt. No matter how fast and loose the play with other parts of the adaption the characters looks are usually never changed unless they are just impossible to cast. I was a bit surprised they went back and made a live action adaption of  a manga they already made as an anime in the same time slot. I wonder if this is a fluke or will we be seeing more live action adaptions in the noitaminA time slot?

Having never read the Moyashimon manga or watched the anime, I only knew the bare minimum of the story going into this. But I found it easy to pick up on the basic premise of a guy who can see bacteria with the naked eye. He heads to an agricultural school to meet a professor that is unsurprisingly fascinated by his abilities. Oh, and said bacteria talk, make jokes, and are generally cute looking despite their sometimes dubious profession. The show is eccentric from the very start as Tadayasu wanders through the unfamiliar school encountering everything from girls joyously scooping up cow plop to football players walking and tackling to their next destination. Once he finally meets the professor we are subjected to a funny yet disgusting enough that I had to look away scene of Prof. Itsuki eating fermented bird. That probably sums up what this show can be cute and disgusting almost in the same breath. We also meet a grad student that looks tough as nails, has great expressions, and isn’t too happy about Tadyasu’s ability. Moyashimon’s live action adaption seems to be on the right track and I found the humor just right.

10 thoughts on “I Know What You Watched Last Summer: Summer 2010 Anime Guide

    • reversethieves says:

      Legend of Legendary Heroes I am continuing to watch. Occult Academy I liked, and watched the second episode of, but I’m still wavering because it’s a bit scary!

      -Narutaki

  1. temperus says:

    Highschool of the Dead is surprisingly boring and generic for a show that’s supposed to be a visceral combination of gore and fanservice. I’d rather not waste 13 episodes of my life on it when 2 hours is all it takes for a Romero movie to do better.

    Occult Academy and Legendary Heroes are the most promising new shows by far, though Shiki has potential. Amigami is twisted, but mediocre. And the rest are completely forgettable (though I haven’t watched Moyashimon yet).

    • reversethieves says:

      I randomly round out from Ed Chavez that apparently Legend of the Legendary Heroes has a hard core cult fan following in Japan but it is HUGE in Korea. That is neither here no there but I thought it was worth mentioning.

      As for Highschool of the Dead I don’t really care for zombies at all so the show would have had to have been A++ to really get my attention. Detailed panties is not my opinion of A++ material.

      – Hisui

  2. Brack says:

    That strikes me as a really odd reading of Seitokai Yakuindomo.

    If you look at the joke structure, it’s not setting out to shock like an Andrew Dice Clay. The joke isn’t in the vulgarity, it’s in how they end up at the vulgarity and the other character’s response to it. There’s a few other structures the show has used so far, but the one they frequently use is:

    * Something ostensibly serious is said.
    * Then something stupid is said/done.
    * Then there is a reaction to the stupidity.

    There’s not much difference in structure from the “my knees are laughing” joke and the suggestion box gag. It’s not that it’s filthy that’s funny, it’s that it’s a wholly ridiculous response to the situation.

    I like the retention of the rhythm of a gag strip a lot as frequently anime lets the air out of manga gags by getting the pacing all wrong. My main concern is that it’ll get repetitive in the long run without some different structures or punchlines.

    • reversethieves says:

      I think it was going for the shock value but maybe I am just a prude. But I stand by my statement that while the rhythm of the jokes is different I feel it is going for a
      Girl’s High style of humor. Either way I did not really like the humor overall and the show feel flat for me.

      To each their own in the end. I love Hayate no Gotoku but I know a good deal of people whose opinion I respect cannot even get a chuckle out of it. Humor is always very personal.

      – Hisui

      • Brack says:

        Episode 3 is pretty much what you think it is though. Possibly worse as it layers on fanservice too. No coincidence that it’s the episode that strays the furthest from the original manga’s gags, adapting about 5 strips and bulking it out with “original” material.

  3. skydancer_misaki says:

    I’ll only be watching Occult Academy for this season. It has a good blend of horror and comedy. It creates enough mysteries on the first episode to make me want to continue watching it.

    High School of the Dead. I didn’t even like the first episode. It’s predictable and it looks like it’s going to be the same old zombie movie plot.

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