The GLORIO Summer 2016 Anime Guide – Part 1

2016 Summer_1

Who remembers ye goode aulde days when the summer lineup of anime was a wasteland bigger than the Naruto subreddit after a shipping war? Nowadays, all seasons get their fair and equal share of anime, likely because Aniplex and co. finally realized that nerds never really go out, not even in summer. This leaves the task of culling the prospected trash from the, erm, regular old garbage once again in our capable and highly objective hands. In this first part of our seasonal preview guide, we reunite with Guts and friends after almost twenty years, take a glimpse at ten years into the past with ReLIFE, and then the future with Orange, and try to be excited for another season of Love Live! without provoking the ire of half the Internet. What could possibly go wrong?

The Morose Mononokean

Fukigen no Mononokean

Manga adaptation by Pierrot Plus
Air Date: 6/28/2016
Director: Akira Iwanaga (Tegami Bachi, Isuca, Corpse Party)
Writer: Takao Yoshioka (Your Lie in April, The Familiar of Zero)

Coincidence or not, next season seems to be featuring a suspicious number of anime based on properties licensed by Crunchyroll’s manga initiative. The Morose Mononokean is the first of the bunch, a bog-standard pseudo-comedy about a boy haunted by various folkloristic demons and the grumpy exorcist he teams up with. The buddy-cop vibes and complete lack of noticeable talent involved make this show perfect summer fluff fodder, though judging from the manga, The Morose Mononokean is gonna have to work hard to keep audiences invested in its formulaic monster-of-the-week antics.

Berserk

Manga adaptation by Millepensee
Air Date: 7/1/2016
Director: Shin Itagaki (Ben-To, Teekyu, Devil May Cry)
Writer: Makoto Fukami (Psycho-Pass) & Takashi Yamashita

Kentaro Miura’s classic dark fantasy manga is slowly crawling its way back up from the (according to Internet myth, at least) iDOLM@STER-induced schedule slump it has been in since 2006. In June, the Berserk manga will finally be returning to its monthly release schedule, with this new anime set to premiere at the same time. It marks the first time Berserk material set after the Golden Age flashback arc – which inspired the 1997 anime and the movie trilogy – will be adapted. Given the infamous conclusion of that arc, this leaves this new Berserk anime with a relatively clean slate to reintroduce a classic manga to a new audience. Unfortunately, however, that seems to be all it’s set out to do. As if the decision to animate a manga famous for its gorgeous artwork entirely in third-rate JRPG-quality CGI wasn’t enough to spark the fandom’s ire already, the gaudy, simplistic colour palette all but confirms this new adaptation as a shameless cash-in to be directed to the nearest trash bin. It’s desecration on top of misery, but then again, isn’t that what Berserk fans like? 

ReLIFE

17 Again: The Anime

Manga adaptation by J.C. Staff
Air Date: 7/2/2016
Director: Satoru Kosaka (former key animator at Studio Deen)
Writer: Michiko Yokote (Shirobako, Gintama, Dagashi Kashi)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: unemployed 27-year-old gets involved in a rehabilitation process that allows him to attend high school once more in the guise of his 17-year-old self and fix whatever led to him becoming unemployed in the first place. For those who like me have been thoroughly worn out by anime’s relentless obsession with secondary education, ReLIFE sounds like yet another nerd-baiting wish fulfillment fantasy. You know, jobless loser gets to live a high school rom-com life straight out of anime, you can pretty much predict how these things go at this point. Yet Yayoiso’s original manga, also licensed by Crunchyroll, is quick to send these suspicions packing with strong character development and enjoyable jokes. High school soon turns out to be a thoroughly alienating experience for our world-weary protagonist, who over time develops into a surrogate father for his classmates and cynical straight man to their millennial quirks and teenage drama, which all seem trivial compared to his real-world experience. J.C. Staff have a shoddy reputation, and I’m no fan of making the anime look like it was made ten years ago, seemingly to further stress ReLIFE‘s grounded take on nostalgia, yet the strong source material should make for an at least moderately enjoyable experience.

Love Live! Sunshine!!

Love Live: The Next Generation

Anime ‘original’ by Sunrise
Air Date: 7/2/2016
Director: Kazuo Sakai (Mushi-Uta, episode director on Love Live!)
Writer: Jukki Hanada (Love Live!, Nichijou, Sound! Euphonium)

With its music singles being churned out for year now, its characters established enough to inspire countless fanart and memes already and the ships so set in stone people are likely gonna die if the show proper sees things differently, one wonders if Love Live! Sunshine!! even has to air at all to extend the franchise’s lease on the anime fandom for another couple of years. Dedicated readers will probably know that we’re not the biggest Love Live! fans over here at the Glorio Blog, but at the very least I’m happy to see an anime that can mean something to people of all walks of life without indulging in the toxin of real life idol culture. Love Live! Sunshine!! seems none too keen on continuing this trend, playing things safe with pretty much the same premise as the original show, and arguably the same cast. Despite swimming in heaps of cash, Sunrise sadly still can’t afford to ditch the ever-creepy dance routines – or hire good songwriters, but hey, that might just be me – but don’t expect anything preventing this show from the very top. … Except maybe male love interests.

First Love Monster

Hatsukoi Monster

Manga adaptation by Studio Deen
Air Date: 7/2/2016
Director: Takayuki Inagaki (Rosario + Vampire, Muv-Luv Alternative)
Writer: Deko Akao (Flying Witch, Noragami)

Studio Deen may not quite have the reputation they once had, but they can still be counted on to provide the very bottom of the barrel if needed. You all know the drill – girl goes to school, gets in danger, is saved by handsome guy who is kind of a jerk, falls in love with handsome guy who is kind of a jerk, starts dating handsome guy who is kind of a jerk, handsome guy who is kind of a jerk turns out to be a fifth grader–wait, what? Yeah, the grown woman who looks like a little girl is a well-known trope, but we’ve never seen the literal inverse of that joke, let alone as the entire premise of a show. Questionable paedophilia vibes aside, Akira Hiyoshimaru’s original manga is little more than a derivative shoujo rom-com in the vein of My Little Monster, though given the complete lack of actual animation (or writer credits) in the above trailer, First Love Monster seems to be running full speed on the fast track to anime oblivion.

Rewrite

Game adaptation by 8bit
Air Date: 7/2/2016
Director: Motoki ‘Tenshou’ Tanaka (Kiniro Mosaic, The Fruit of Grisaia)
Writer: Tenshou, Takashi Aoshima (Love Lab) & Tetsuya Takahashi

I almost pity Key. Once they stood at the very top, collaborating with the likes of Kyoto Animation to tug violently yank at the heartstrings of anime fans everywhere easily impressionable people with low standards and questionable attitudes towards women. Yet nowadays, in the age of Okada, even Key’s fish-eyed, snow-covered hybrid of noisy slapstick and showboat melodrama is deemed too subtle, leaving the studio to rely on C-list studios and personnel to bring their visual novels to the small screen. I’d lament about how the mighty have fallen if Key ever were truly mighty in the first place. Then again, along with the soon-to-be-a-major-motion-picture Planetarian, Rewrite is the only Key tearjerker written without the involvement of Jun Maeda, instead penned mainly by Romeo Tanaka (Yume Miru Kusuri, Humanity has Declined) and Ryukishi07 (When They Cry). That however doesn’t seem to prevent Rewrite, with its boatloads of ‘quirky’ baby-ladies and mysterious touches of fantasy, from looking exactly like every other Key anime ever made. 8bit at the very least seem interested in making their adaptation look halfway decent, though three different writers and a director whose only previous credits are the maligned Grisaia adaptations and the godawfully saccharine Kiniro Mosaic probably won’t win over the skeptics. There’s nothing wrong with preaching to the choir, Key, but you might wanna reconsider that if it’s all you’ve been doing for the past fifteen years.

Days

Manga adaptation by MAPPA
Air Date: 7/3/2016
Director: Kounosuke Uda (Lovely Complex, One Piece)
Writer: N/A

Amidst the European Championships, even I can’t help but be a bit excited about soccer football. Days coincidentally arrives to scratch that itch – along with the ever-present need for handsome boys, naturally – though in an over-saturated market, it will have to bring more to the table if it wants to score. Beating My Hero Academia for the 2016 Kodansha Manga award certainly makes for a decent enough credential, and MAPPA is about as good a production company mere mortal manga will get. On the other hand, sports dramas really are gonna come up with better ways to set themselves apart from each other. Days has the advantage of being the first show about soccer football to air seems since Haikyuu and Kuroko no Basket hit, and it definitely seems ambitious enough to catch the same wave. Whether its perfect genericness turns out to be its grace or its undoing in this case, however, remains to be seen.

Tales of Zestiria the X

Game adaptation by ufotable
Air Date: 7/3/2016
Director: Haruo Sotozaki (Tales of Symphonia)
Writer: Writer? Who needs a writer?

I’m a bit baffled as to why a Tales of Zestiria adaptation even exists, because as far as I know Tales of Zestiria barely even had a plot to begin with. While I would have killed for a halfway decent Xillia adaptation, Zestiria is little more than the cookie-cutter tale of a goody-two-shoes dork and his crusade against the Big Evil Overlord Man who is turning people into monsters. The generic premise most other Tales games start off with before twisting and turning their way into the multi-layered epics they are, is this game’s entire plot. Heck, this thing would be far more entertaining if they adapted the skits, rather than the actual main quest. Whining aside, at the very least this anime adaptation should look the part. Ufotable (usually) make the anime equivalents of million-dollar blockbusters and recycling Go Shiina’s phenomenal soundtrack is by far the most welcome stroke of laziness since J.J. Abrams’ decision to just change a few names in the original Star Wars script for his Episode VII screenplay. On the other hand… God Eater sure was a thing that (barely) happened, wasn’t it?

Orange

Manga adaptation by TMS Entertainment
Air Date: 7/4/2016
Director: Hiroshi Hamasaki (Steins;Gate, Terraformars)
Writer: Yuuko Kakihara (Digimon Adventure tri., Chihayafuru)

Not to be confused with the fruit, the colour, the amplifier brand, the feudal principality or the French phone operator of the same name, Orange is another anime based on a manga licensed by Crunchyroll, and one that has the potential to become the new classic the shoujo genre desperately needs. Pairing the usual high school romance tropes with the interesting mystery of main character Naho recieving a letter from her future self, predicting the transfer of a new classmate and his subsequent death. The trailer seems to show the cast both as teenagers and as adults, which seems to indicate we’ll be going back and forth between the present and the bad future Naho and her friends are trying to prevent. Earlier this year, Erased already showed that this kind of storytelling can work exceptionally well, and Hiroshi Hamasaki has the pedigree to make it work. His cinematic, bloom-heavy style is a good fit that helps set Orange apart from its usually more brightly- or pastel-coloured contemporaries, while Yuuko Kakihara’s work on the second Digimon Adventure tri. film has proven her skill at writing large casts interacting well. If Orange can keep the usual shoujo liabilities in check, we may be looking at one of the best anime of next season.

Saiki Kusuo no Psi-nan

The Psionic Misfortunes of Kusuo Saiki

Manga adaptation by J.C. Staff
Air Date: 7/4/2016
Director: Hiroaki Sakurai (Di Gi Charat, GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class)
Writer: Michiko Yokote (Shirobako, Gintama, Dagashi Kashi)

The only thing Saiki Kusuo no Psi-nan needs to appeal to me even less is rampant fanservice. From the archaic animation to the screaming colours and absolutely horrendous character designs, this production all but screams cringeworthy gag manga, and guess what, that’s exactly what Saiki Kusuo no Psi-nan is. The manga reeks that typical style of anime humour I simply fail to catch the appeal of: overly wordy non-sequiturs reliant entirely on the absurd, the loud or the grotesque of the ensuing scene an sich, rather than on actual cleverness. It’s not my cup of tea, and paired with the art style seen in the above trailer, I wouldn’t even want it anywhere near my cup of tea. No matter how appalling it looks, however, Seiki Kusuo no Psi-nan is still a Shounen Jump manga, which means it is both (inexplicably) one of the most anticipated anime of next season and one of the most privileged. Similarly to Azumanga Daioh, it will air as a five-minute short every morning, with a compilation of that week’s gags airing on Sundays in the usual late night timeslot. That one is probably the version we’ll get, so whichever poor sod gets tasked with doing a first impressions post of Saiki Kusuo no Psi-nan will get saddled with a whole twenty-two minutes of it. May the Lord have mercy on your soul. And your eyes.

New Game!

Manga Adaptation by Dogakobo
Air Date: 7/4/2016
Director: Yoshiyuki Fujiwara (Engaged to the Unidentified, Plastic Memories)
Writer: Fumihiko Shimo (Clannad, Engaged to the Unidentified)

New Game! is an anime about a purple-haired lesbian who makes video games, so basically the stuff of GamerGate’s nightmares. Ha! Usually, when anime talk about ‘games’, they actually mean ‘dating sims’, but New Game! is about the more conventional game development. While what little of the manga I’ve read gives but a cursory glance at the wonderful world of 3D modeling, at least it’s not afraid of actually being about what it claims to be about – something few other slice-of-life shows of its ilk can claim. The animation wizards of Dogakobo at the helm pretty much guarantee more bouncy animation quirks than you can shake a stick at, though with Yoshiyuki Fujiwara they’ve arguably put their very worst director on the job. As with so many of these cutesy shows, even those by Dogakobo, the proof’ll be in the pudding – best case scenario, we get Shirobako, but with games. Worst case scenario, we get uncontrollable homicidal urges. With games.

Will these shows turn out to be exactly what it says on the tin, or is the next season one of pleasant surprises and devastating disappointments? Stay tuned for our first impressions as soon as July hits. Until then, look forward to part deux of our seasonal preview guide, as we go cooking with an overly excited kindergartener, learn a backstory no one wanted to know and lose all faith in humanity for approximately the 27,315th time.

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6 thoughts on “The GLORIO Summer 2016 Anime Guide – Part 1

  1. Yuuuuhuuuuuu Summer time! I have’t read the post yet. Im just excited for summer =D. Ill get around to it 😉

  2. While I get the reservations about Hatsukoi Monster, there’s a 1990s anime called Yoiko about a fifth grade girl who looks like she’s 21 which, while a bit pandering and a touch cringeworthy, is actually pretty darned funny. Anyway, don’t we watch anime for these kinds of shows? The ones that Nickelodeon and Disney would never touch?!? (Well, sometimes, at least!)

    • It’s not that unheard of as a concept. Hatsukoi Monster sounds like that romance subplot in Recorder and Randsell made into its own anime.

  3. Dammit that Berserk preview depressed me. What a cash grab and huge dissapointment. Will likely skip. I will however watch Days, Orange. Seems like the only two shows on this first installment worth my time.

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