The GLORIO Summer 2016 Anime Guide – Part 3

2016 Summer_3

We’ve made it to the final part of our seasonal anime preview, with a few more surprises left in store. In parts one and two, we already covered the shows set to premiere in the first week of July, now it’s time to take a look at all the leftovers; including a new anime original project from the studio that brought you Durarara!!, the confusing conclusion to the Danganronpa saga, and a new adaptation of a manga by the creator of One Punch Man. Will you be pissed off at my jaded lack of excitement for any of these? Probably. But if you came to this blog for superficial hype, you’re probably in the wrong place. Let’s go!

Amanchu!

Manga adaptation by J.C. Staff
Air Date: 7/8/2016
Director: Junichi Sato (Sailor Moon) & Kenichi Kasai (Honey & Clover)
Writer: Deko Akao (Flying Witch, Noragami)

Dedicated readers might remember Amanchu!, as it was featured on Random Manga Theatre a couple of years ago. Kozue Aikawa’s fluffy manga about deep sea diving continues to be one of the best reads around for fans of slow-paced, so-called iyashikei or ‘healing’ anime, with its gorgeous artwork, subtle character development and most importantly, adorable array of goofy facial expressions. Luckily, J.C. Staff has gathered an impressive staff befitting of the original manga’s quality. Junichi Sato and Kenichi Kasai live and breathe the iyashikei way of life, and are arguably the best slice-of-life directors not on Kyoto Animation’s payroll, while Deko Akao’s current work on Flying Witch displays excellent skill at adapting leisurely paced stories for the small screen. Granted, iyashikei in itself is a bit of a hate-it-or-love-it affair – though I’ve been known to flipflop – but if you liked Aria, Tamayura or Flying Witch, chances are you’ll like Amanchu! as well.

Alderamin on the Sky

Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin

Light novel adaptation by Madhouse
Air Date: 7/9/2016
Director: Tetsuo Ishimura (Ane Log)
Writer: Shogo Yasukawa (Food Wars!, Terraformars)

Taking home the prestigious award for ‘least terrible looking light novel adaptation of summer 2016’ is Alderamin on the Sky, a Valkyria Chronicles-esque tale about a lazy pervert who becomes the greatest general the Katjvarna Empire has ever known. Not exactly the most exciting premise under the sun, but the noticeable lack of fanservice elements – not to mention the gender-balanced main cast – in the initial trailer do muster up a little goodwill. Combining a tropical, piratey locale with 19th century military themes makes for an intriguing setting as well, though the question is how, or even if, Alderamin will make good on this potential, or if it will be just another fantasy anime with a slightly different coat of paint. With Madhouse’s expertise and the art direction of Takeshi Waki, who previously worked on Mushishi and Samurai Champloo, it’ll at least be a very pretty coat of paint, but I don’t know if I can put my trust into a director who is just one incest-themed OVA short of being a complete rookie. This is, after all, still just a light novel adaptation.

91 Days

Anime original by Shuka
Air Date: 7/9/2016
Director: Hiro Kaburaki (Kimi ni Todoke, My Little Monster)
Writer: Taku Kishimoto (Erased, Haikyuu!, Joker Game)

Prohibition-era setting? People with ridiculous names? Shuka, you sneaky devils, you’re not just trying to remake Baccano!, aren’t you? Taku Kishimoto’s strong adaptation of Erased has me convinced he can write a decent story of his own, and last season’s Joker Game certainly made for a good warming-up exercise. In fact, Jokes Game would actually be a more apt comparison, as 91 Days seems keener on being a revenge drama about surly men in suits, than a Taratinesque caper à la Baccano!. Anime and realism sadly usually go together like water and oil, and the fact that 91 Days seems to believe Prohibition in the USA came into effect five years too early isn’t a good sign. I have to congratulate Shuka for their sheer ambition, though, developing an original anime project only a few months after wrapping production on three whole seasons of Durarara!!. But say, didn’t said production blow up spectacularly, to a point where an episode went live without any in-between animation? Oh dear.

Qualidea Code

Light novel adaptation by A-1 Prod.
Air Date: 7/10/2016
Director: Kenichi Kawamura (Super Sonico: The Animation)
Writer: Wataru Watari, Koushi Tachibana & Sou Sagara

What exactly is Qualidea Code? The description above says ‘light novel adaptation’ but that is not entirely true. Qualidea is a shared universe of sorts, a collaboration between different light novel authors – Wataru Watari (Oregairu), Koushi Tachibana (Date a Live) and Sou Sagara (Henneko) – and publishers spanning different genres and cities, with the events in each city being chronicled by a different author. You still with me here? Okay. Qualidea Code, then, is the anime supposed to bring them all together: it will feature characters from Tachibana’s and Sagara’s previously released novels, set in Kanagawa and Tokyo respectively, while also introducing Watari’s Chiba-based cast. With the three authors staying on board to write the segments featuring their respective casts, Qualidea Code at least seems to have found a halfway decent way of going about a collaboration like this. The question remains, whoever, if these three guys have the talent to make a project as ambitious as this one work. While I’ve heard some good things about the characterization in Oregairu and even Henneko (winner of Marlin’s first ever annual ero-kawaii award), a large scale action series is on a completely different level. Furthermore, with the way anime works, Qualidea Code seems bound to be the Disk Wars to Qualidea’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, rather than its Avengers. If even Urobuchi, Nasu and Narita couldn’t make a project like this work, I don’t think these guys can.

Ange Vierge

Ange Vierge – “Progress”: Girls facing destiny against World’s Ending

Card game commercial by Silver Link
Air Date: 7/10/2016
Director: Masafumi Tamura (freelance key animator)
Writer: Katsuhiko Takayama (Future Diary, Aldnoah.Zero)

There’s always one of these, isn’t there? One of these shows that seem more like a parody of anime that’d show up in a sitcom or a Grand Theft Auto game than something someone actually put any effort into? Ange Vierge is one of these shows. Look, I know we are contractually obliged to give any mobile card game commercial a fair chance now ever since Rage of Bahamut knocked our socks off, but seriously, I just have no opinion on this thing whatsoever. Silver Link have made exactly one good show in the past, and that was under the guidance of Kunihiko Ikuhara, not some dude who’s never directed anything before in his entire life, and while Katsuhiko Takayama may have adapted one of my all-time guilty pleasures (Future Diary), his original work has ranged from awful to outright infamous. This trailer looks like a commercial for a bad light novel minus the male protagonist, and I can only hope that along with its proxy, the audience will let this one pass by as well.

Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak Academy

Danganronpa 3: The End of Kibougamine Gakuen

Game adaptations by Lerche
Air Date: 7/11/2016 (‘Side: Future’)
                 7/14/2016 (‘Side: Despair’)
Director: Seiji Kishi (every bad game adaptation ever)
Writer: Kazutaka Kodaka (original creator of Danganronpa) & Norimitsu Kaihou (School-Live!)

I honestly don’t even know what’s going on with Danganronpa anymore. It started out as a clever little Ace Attorney knock-off, now it’s a clusterfuck of spinoffs that could rival Kingdom Hearts in its complexity. First of all, Danganronpa 3 apparently has nothing to do with the upcoming Danganronpa V3. That game is supposed to kick off an all-new storyline, while this anime will wrap up the remaining plot threads of the previous two games. Not exactly a very bright idea, if you ask me, given that unsurprisingly, no one liked the first Danganronpa anime in the first place, and the second game was never even adapted. But Lerche, Spike Chunsoft, Kazutaka Kodaka or whoever though this was a good idea apparently sees things big, so we get not one, but two Danganronpa 3 anime, one (‘Side: Future’) focusing on Makoto Naegi’s fate after the events of Danganronpa 2, the other (‘Side” Despair’) serving as a prequel to that game, about what Hajime and his classmates were up to before arriving on the island. It honestly sounds like a lot of pomp and circumstance around what reeks of a deliberate attempt to torch the old continuity and run, so of course they put Seiji Kishi, the master of train wrecks, in the director’s chair. Being an anime original story written by the original creator of Danganronpa should at least reel in Kishi’s infamous literalism and pacing problems, but half-assed production values are pretty much a guarantee. Say, by the way, I heard that Zero Time Dilemma is coming out in a few days…

Mob Psycho 100

Manga Adaptation by Bones
Air Date: 7/12/2016
Director: Yuzuru Tachikawa (Death Parade)
Writer: Hiroshi Seko (Ajin, Seraph of the End)

Well, the good news is Yuzuru Tachikawa, creator and director of Death Parade, is directing another anime. The bad news is that it looks like a sloppy, one-note comedy held together entirely by spectacular animation. Now where have I seen that before? As you might have guessed, Mob Psycho 100 is indeed based on a manga by One, the original author of One Punch Man – though the version you all know and love is the Young Jump remake by Yusuke Murata. Like the anime adaptation of the latter, Bones are going all-in on the fancy effects, yet One’s terrible deliberately simplistic art style remains entirely in tact here, leading to an uncanny contrast I’m not a big fan of. The biggest problem, however, is that Mob Psycho 100 looks virtually indistinguishable from One Punch Man. It’s once again the story of a poker-faced average joe with incredible superpowers, though this time around the affectionate parody of superheroes and classic shounen tropes have been replaced with… a high school setting. So yeah, while the trailer looks very impressive and the talent involved is unmistakable, I just can’t muster up any enthusiasm for Mob Psycho 100. It looks like one of these insufferable ‘random’ gag shorts, and I was never a big fan of One Punch Man in the first place. Can’t we have more My Hero Academia instead?

Battery

Novel Adaptation by Zero-G
Air Date: 7/15/2016
Director: Tomomi Mochizuki (House of Five Leaves, Zettai Shounen)
Writer: Tomomi Mochizuki (House of Five Leaves, Rozen Maiden 2013)

Always fashionably late to the new season party, NoitaminA only ever seems to remember its origins as a time slot for smarter anime when no one else can be bothered to make some – and while it’s a bit of a stretch to call an anime about baseball ‘smart’, Battery at least seems to be focusing more on the coming-of-age drama aspect of sportsmanship than on the homoerotic hot-blooded competitiveness. Tomomi Mochizuki is a very talented director, and while I wish the anime industry would adapt some more of Takako Shimura’s manga in stead of delegating character design work to her, it’s always nice to see her existence acknowledged. As for the writing, it could go either way. Though he has an acclaimed novel to work with, Mochizuki’s writing resume is spotty, and sports anime are more dependent on the quality of their writing and characters than almost any other genre. We could be getting the second coming of Ping Pong, but Battery might just as well be yet another boring sausage fest.

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. And if everything sucks, there’s still next season, featuring… yeah… hmm… well… We’re screwed, aren’t we?

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