the Little Red Reviewer

Summer anime watching

Posted on: July 6, 2012

A lot of anime gets watched in this house. 300 channels of cable TV, and I’d rather watch Crunchyroll.  I got hooked on anime when I was in high school, watched a boatload through my early to mid 20s, and although in my late 20s I got out of it, the hubs has been watching a ton recently and been getting me hooked again.

Here’s what he’s been watching the most of lately, and I’ve been enjoying these too – Gosick, Mysterious Girlfriend X, and Hyouka. He’s seen every available episode of the shows mentioned, where I have probably seen half the episodes. The words below are his.

 

Gosick- this came out a year or so ago, and it advertises itself as a mystery solving anime, but it’s really a character study and a romance, possibly one of the best romances ever seen in an anime story. It does everything right, successfully combining action, adventure, romance, and situation comedy. A refreshing way to present a story, as so many anime are so focused on just action, or just comedy, or just romance, or just slice of life, etc. Although many animes genremash, very few offer such a good blend of, for lack of a better phrase, storytelling methods.

Taking place in the 1920s, the story starts when Kujo goes to a small fictitious European country to study at a private school. He’s the 3rd child of a fairly wealthy Japanese family, and he experiences some prejudice against Asians while in his new city. In his boredom, he explores some unused buildings in the school, and meets Victorique. Tiny of stature but large in attitude, to tell you much more about her would spoil the major, and most fascinating part of the story.

As they get to know each other, they run into small mysteries and start attempting to solve them. Victorique’s superior intellent, and the fact that she simply knows too much allows them to solve some mysteries, while falling deeping into others, especially since Victorique’s half brother, Grevil, is a Senior Investigator with the police department.

Every episode touches on a deeper backstory, including the consequences of World War I, fascism, and as Kujo and Victorique get to know each other, they begin to trust one another and learn more about each other’s backstories. Victorique isn’t just a spoiled little girl living in a library, she has a very, very dark past. The beauty of Gosick is watching the story develop. At less than 30 episodes, the time commitment is worth it.

 

 

Mysterious Girlfriend X – This show doesn’t need all the bell and whistles and all the stylistic extras that many other shows depend on to make a point, it is simplicity at it’s best. A classic boy meets girl show with a little twist, this is on the sweetest and most real relationships to be on tv in ages.

Our boy, Tsubaki Akira, is a typical Japanese teenage boy. He’s interested in girls, flawed, says and does dumb stuff sometimes, and is a completely normal clumsy teenage boy. Nothing he does is ridiculous or over the top, he seems completely believable, doing dumb things that every normal teenage boy does. Not the most interesting person, but still, quite refreshing, as so many characters in animes are often exceptional, at everything.

Our girl, Urabe, is the focus of the story. She’s a new transfer student into the school and she’s attractive, yet not attractive, all at the same time, making her very intriguing. If she’d just dress up a bit, or do her hair nicely, she could be beautiful, but she doesn’t care about looks. Her hair is usually covering her eyes, and her clothes usually look sloppy. Have a main female anime character who isn’t the classic beauty is refreshing as well.

Sloppy looks aside, Urabe is an unusual young lady. And here’s where people get weirded out by this show, even though there is no need to be. Urabe has a special power based in her saliva, and Tsubaki has a fetish for it. Yes, you read that correctly. Urabe can read and transmit emotions through her (and others) saliva. She will drool on her finger and have Tsubaki suck her finger so she can transmit how she is feeling.

It’s easy to have a gut reaction of “that’s gross!”, but once you start watching the show you realize their relationship is sweet, innocent, and beautiful. The transfer of saliva is used to show the development of their relationship, and as a way for awkward teenagers to express feelings and emotions that many adults have trouble with. The writers never use it in a fetishy way or make any attempt to explain how her powers work. This isn’t a show that needs explanation, the best way to enjoy it is to simply watch it.

 

Hyouka – one of the more complicated shows. The animation is top notch, getting close to Studio Ghibli quality. The attention to detail is insanely good, and I like how the people are a bit more realistic looking (permenant scowls, imperfect hairstyles), as opposed to everyone being beautiful all the time.

you can watch the show with the sound turned off, and the level of detail will offer you an entirely new storyline.

On the surface, this is a mystery. It’s about the revival of a classics club at a Japanese high school, with two boys and two girls. One of the members of the club finds a mystery, and she requests that her clubmembers assist her in solving them. Houtarou, who becomes the main character, has very little self esteem, and very little direction in his life. He hides it with a facade of apathy, and the habit of not spending energy on anything. At the beginning, it’s hard for the viewer to care much about Houtarou, but once you realize it’s a facade, he becomes far more interesting as the other characters pull him out of his shell.

Also, the mysteries aren’t that interesting. No murder mysteries, no ghosts, nothing epic. It’s simple stuff, like why did a family member get expelled from the school, is a student smoking in a classroom, very humdrum stuff. So, where’s the interest?

Much like in Gosick, it’s the background story that slowly builds and is touched on in every episode about Houtarou. The series is only half way through, so there is no way of knowing where it’s going. So far only 10 or 11 episodes are available on simulcast, but the show has already been renewed for a second season.

Start watching this show for the excellent animation, stylistic details and music. Before long you’ll be hooked on a slow burn of a surprise that you probably should have seen coming.

So, what anime shows has everyone else been watching lately?

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21 Responses to "Summer anime watching"

I’m still working my way through the stellar ONE PIECE. And though it’s not Japanese anime you should check out Season 1 of the Airbender sequel series LEGEND OF KORRA as it is phenomenal.

I don’t know what else I’ll get the chance to watch.

But did you hear that SAILOR MOON is getting a brand new anime in 2013? If they did it justice and treated it as the more adult show it was in Japan it COULD be good.

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arrghh, when are they going to start running reruns of Korra? I so wanted to see it, but i was never home when it was on, and I never managed to catch a rerun. CN did the same thing with the first season of Clone Wars, also so annoying! the 2nd season is supposed to start soon, so you’d think they’d be running 1st season in heavy rotation??

excited about Sailor Moon too! is it sad that I know the entire opening song? (well, the English version, at least). and you’re right, I do still need to get into One Piece. need to just buck up already and netflix it.

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The drool aspect of Mysterious Girlfriend X almost creeped me out but it has been one of the more interesting shows and I like the character and art design a lot. Although Hyouka looked interesting and is animated by Kyoto Animation (Nichijou!!!!) I gave this one a miss.

Of the shows airing in the Summer Season in Japan, Natsuyuki Rendezvous, Sword Art Online, and Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita look the best.

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We watched the first episode of Sword Art Online last night, I’m hooked! Ok, the premise isn’t that original, but it’s like final fantasy/WoW cut scenes/tutorial + story line, minus the carpal tunnel inducing button mashing. so, perfect for me!

Hubby said it wasn’t is thing, but I’ll be watching more episodes, that’s for sure!

Natsuyuki Rendevous, I heard that’s a sequel to something else? Can it be watched as a stand alone, or do I need to find what came before to understand it?

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Good call on Sword Art Online. There’s a complex story developing and I like that animation. I hate the button bashing aspect of MMO’s, too (I only played my first MMO recently).

Natsuyuki Rendezvous is an adaptation of a four volume manga written by Haruka Kawachi so you don’t need to know anything about it. It’s a supernatural romance with down to earth characters. It looks like it has a really good storyline and characters.

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excellent! Natsuyuki Rendezvous, here I come!

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Let’s see. . .

Stein’s Gate is one of the best that I’ve seen in a long time. Great characters, great chemistry, a plotline that starts slow and builds to absolute crazyness . . . you should check it out. Sci-fi, time travel, and global conspiracies.

Hunter X Hunter is being redone, and at a significantly faster pace than the original anime, which leads me to hope it will eventually catch up with the later arcs of the manga. It’s OK. Some of the new voices bother me (Hisoka in particular). This version of it isn’t as dark as the previous, which of course is also not as dark as the manga itself.

I’ve watched some of Madoka. That’s another mindbender. Really dark, though, but the varied visual style of the witch battles is fascinating. Not sure if I want to finish it, as I’m fairly certain that things won’t end well.

I just finished rewatching Darker Than Black again for the third time. One of my favorite series, although there’s a lot of people who don’t like it. It’s a series that introduces you to a dystopian sci-fi world and then refuses to answer all your questions, or even most of them. There’s still so much that is unknown about the world, but that’s the way I like my stories.

I also watch Toriko periodically, just because it doesn’t take itself seriously at all as it shoots for the heights of shonen ridiculousness.

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For sure, Stein’s Gate is one of the best animes, ever. We’ve watched it a few times through now, it spoiled me! Other half and i have been contemplating cosplaying Okarin and Karisu, he’s got the laugh down, and I just need to buy us some lab jackets.

Been hearing good things about Darker than Black as well, will need to give it a try.

eh, I tend not to go for the ultra Shonen stuff. i love the idea of it, but the never ending fight scenes get real boring, real fast for me. :(

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That would be an awesome (and not too expensive) cosplay.

DTB is indeed awesome. A good mixture of action, bittersweet, and sci-fi. There’s also the sort-of-sequel series Gemini of the Meteor.

Normally I agree about shonen getting tiresome, but Toriko is just so ridiculous it’s hard not to laugh. Given that the whole series is centered around the characters eating delicious food (which makes them stronger, apparently), I find it to be an entertaining diversion now and then. In general, I find shonen to be much more bearable in manga form, because then I can quickly flip through the fights.

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I don’t watch anime nearly enough, but am generally impressed by it when I do and always have fun, even with the ‘lesser’ stuff. And then I read this and there isn’t a one that I don’t want to rush out and watch NOW! What is wrong with you?!?! Don’t you know that I have to work for a living? That I have a family? I’m gonna have to take an anime vacation soon, lol! Seriously though, these all sound like something I not only would like but really WANT to watch. Well done with the intriguing sales pitches. I’m sold!

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lol! I work for a living too! And should i mention that the posts on your blog have caused me no end of hours spend in the pages of excellent books? ;) but yeah, maybe it is time for you to schedule an anime vacation, or at least an anime weekend.

head over to crunchyroll.com, and simulcast livestream a few titles, see what grabs you.

Lost in America and SeaSlugs are great anime review sites, if you want more info on a series before diving in:

Lost in America – http://www.lostinanime.com/
Sea Slugs – http://www.seaslugteam.com/

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Gosick sounds interesting — thanks for the heads-up! (Just looking it up now, and wow, Bandai has pulled out of the North American anime DVD market??? Goes to show how out of date I am with anime .)

Speaking of Bandai, and of romance, ever seen Crest of the Stars? I rewatched that just before Stand Alone Complex and it’s still excellent. Happy to elaborate if you’d like!

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yes! tell me more about Crest of the Stars!

I had no idea about Bandai pulling out of the DVD market either, i haven’t bought an anime DVD in years. Thank goodness for subscription services like Crunchyroll, it’s like Netflix – all you can watch for a set price per month!

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Thanks for the Crunchyroll mention! I’d heard of it but didn’t know if it was available in Aus. Will take a closer look when I get home.

Crest of the Stars evangelism incoming! It, and its sequels (Banner of the Stars I-III) follow Lafiel, a princess of the transhuman Abh empire, and Jinto, a genetically Terran young man whose backwater homeworld surrendered, during his childhood, to the Abh. Crest picks up when they’re 16-17, as Jinto prepares to travel to the Abh capital in order to begin the next phase of his education, and encounters Lafiel along the way. The franchise tells three tales in one:

1) It’s a transhuman space opera, as Jinto and Lafiel find themselves caught up in broader galactic events;
2) It’s a boy-meets-girl story; and
3) It’s a coming of age story.

I love many things about it: its themes of friendship and identity and the relationship between humans and transhumans; its space-operatic sense of joy and wonder; but most of all, its protagonists. THIS is how to write a young male protagonist: Jinto might be short on practical skills compared to grownups, or even to the military-trained Lafiel, and he’s realistically frightened by danger — but he’s also earnest, wide-eyed at the wonders he sees, loyal to his friends, and capable of overcoming his fear. And proud, stubborn, brave, competent Lafiel makes the perfect foil to him.

I actually wrote a review of Crest a few years ago (http://www.matchstickeyes.com/2010/10/03/crest-of-the-stars-banner-of-the-stars-a-space-opera-of-the-transhuman-heart/) and looking back at that review, if anything I wasn’t positive enough! For example, I would take back that criticism about the episodic plot — I’ve realised that Crest’s plot is tied together by thematic unity.

All in all, yeah, highly recommended. :)

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hey, guess what just showed up from Netflix? Crest of the Stars volume I! sweet!!

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Haha, congrats! I hope you have as much fun as I did!

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Oh crap, I should mention, watch the sub, not the dub!

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Mysterious Girlfriend X seemed interesting, but I couldn’t handle the saliva fetish. I think I got to the point where he drank her drool off of a desk in the first episode. I watched the first episodes of Hyouka and Gosick, but they didn’t really hook me enough to keep watching. I guess that makes sense, since you’ve said it was the slowly developing story that was the best part. Maybe I should watch a few more episodes!

My favorite show this year (so far) is “Tsuritama”, a story about aliens, Enoshima, fishing, friendship, family, and the most ridiculous Men-In-Black organization I’ve ever seen!

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I had a real tough time with the saliva thing too. Hubby only continued watching because all the reviews online kept saying how good it was, and he’s been enjoying it. I kinda half watch the eps, and still get squicked out with the saliva thing.

keep watching Gosick. the central plot line doesn’t take off until around episode 6.

Tsuritama, is that the one where the kids go fishing a lot, and they do this silly Macarena-ish dance during the opening J-pop song?

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Around episode 6, good to know :).

Haha, yes that’s Tsuritama. It’s a very happy, silly show in a lot of ways, but I thought it was surprisingly effective in the emotional portrayal of some of the main characters.

I would say its mostly about a few teenage boys with various problems coming to understand how to effectively communicate with their friends and family. Well, that, and also trying to save the earth from an alien threat. And there is a lot of fishing, I have to admit.

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Peter,

I just finished watching the first disc of Crest of the Stars, it’s really good! really, all you had to say was “good old fashioned space opera”, and I am THERE. also, I dig the orchestral style music and stylistic leitmotifs. lucky for us, Netflix does have the subtitled version. More Crest of the Stars, here I come!

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