Danganronpa The Animation: I played the Danganronpa game before I watched the anime, so I knew what I was getting into. It’s worth noting that Danganronpa was directed at Lerche by Seiji Kishi, the guy that directed Persona 4, Devil Survivor 2 and Carnival Phantasm, so if it seems a bit Persona-ish, that’s probably why. However, given that the Danganronpa universe is slathered in a “psycho-pop” veneer that might make even the most experienced gamers mistake the game for another Shoji Meguro project, the directorial choice really fits. As usual, Kishi does an excellent job of bringing the world of whatever he’s working on to life. Like in P4, I loved seeing key moments from the game translated to animation, and even the various nods to the game’s mechanics being represented (like seeing “INVESTIGATION MODE” pop up on the screen, or even hearing Monokuma’s theme whenever he appears). Unfortunately, unlike P4, the atmosphere alone does not carry this adaptation, because Danganronpa has quite an involved story attached to all the flash and pizzazz that is not really well portrayed here. If this is your first time experiencing the story of Danganronpa 1, prepare to be confused. You are given the basics of what you need to know, sure, but you are rushed from murder to murder almost as if you were simply viewing a Cliff Notes version of the story. Pieces of very valuable evidence are flashed in your face, giving you no time to think about their applications or purpose. As a result, by the time you get to each Class Trial you have the characters reaching conclusions that seem almost abstruse, being way ahead of you in your thought process.
This is why I recommend Danganronpa: The Animation as a supplement to the game, not a replacement for it. If you watch it as a companion piece, you’ll most likely be thrilled with it. But if you watch it as if it was the original work, you’ll most likely be lost.
Free!: KyoAni took a gamble with Free! by choosing to adapt a series that, for once, wasn’t about cute girls and fun things being fun. In a mind-boggling, earth-shattering, unprecedented move, Free! is about cute guys and fun things being fun. And swimming. And it’s…well, it’s actually really good.
Free! is based on a light novel called High Speed! which, as the astute can deduce, is not called Free! but shares the exclamation mark. This light novel won an award from KyoAni along with another novel called Kyokai no Kanata (KyoAni’s next season project). To be honest, I like Free! because it’s pretty. The guys are pretty, the water is pretty, the scenery is detailed, the animation is fluid, and the story is interesting enough that it doesn’t bog down any of that. I mean, it’s a competition-and-rival-based sports anime. Who doesn’t love those? The slice-of-life scenes with the Iwatobi High Swim Club are just about as good as any of the Houkago Tea Time scenes, and I consider myself a pretty big K-ON fan. I may not be a fujoshi drooling over these characters, but I can accept that they’re a dynamic bunch, they interact well with each other, and Nagisa is moe as fuck. And Gou-chan best girl. Well, only girl. But still best girl. Winner of most awkwardly singable OP and ED this season.
Gatchaman Crowds: GATCHA GATCHA GATCHAMAN! I’m three episodes into Gatchaman Crowds and it still doesn’t have much in common with the old Gatchaman, but still somehow retains the heart of Gatchaman, and by that I mean ridiculously extravagant sentai battles galore. Gatchaman Crowds is directed by Kenji Nakamura who directed Trapeze and C, and if you’re assuming that that automatically means an incoherent story and trippy as fuck visuals, congratulations. You’re absolutely correct.
Though the real strength of the show is definitely Hajime, the spastic, hyperactive main character whose secret ability, aside from being a Gatchaman, seems to be able to move the plot along at breakneck speed. Indeed, somehow, Hajime’s existence is able to take a muddled, broken, confused narrative like Gatchaman Crowds and string it together into the most beautiful work of art. Of course, you would have to catch up with Hajime in order to view that work of art, as she’d be running at 200 mph, laughing maniacally, dragging the entire show along behind her. But honestly, just as fickle and unpredictable as its main character is, I find my assessment of Gatchaman Crowds to be fluctuating from “absolutely great” to “absolute shit” on a regular basis. Guess I’ll just have to ride this crazy Hajime train to the end. The girls are really cute though. Honorable mention for OP of the season.
Genshiken Nidaime: A lot of people gave Nidaime shit for a lot of things that it really didn’t deserve to be given shit for. This is mainly due to people attaching real-world ideals like feminism and LGBT equality to a 2D show that isn’t really trying to make a statement about any of that, which often means to me that they’re taking it too seriously. This isn’t Princess Knight or Wandering Son, this is fucking Genshiken. Any commentary that’s going to be made is going to be on otaku culture. I heard some criticism that they didn’t like how this was “the Hato show”, they didn’t like how the author portrayed Hato as “not really gay but kind of I don’t know maybe”, they didn’t like how the club was all girls and all about fujoshi now, I heard all sorts of things. I think they all need to lighten up. The thing about Genshiken Nidaime is that it never really stopped being Genshiken, at least for me. The in-jokes are still there and the realistic portrayal of otaku is definitely still there. So the focus changed a bit from guy otaku to girl otaku. It’s all still otaku culture. So the author thought it would be interesting to throw in a trap character that thinks like a real transsexual might. Sounds like a good idea to breathe new life into a serialized manga to me, and I see it as pretty much only that. After all, traps are a part of otaku culture too.
Silver Spoon: Silver Spoon, first off, is nothing like FMA. This is a plus in my book, as I despise FMA, and Silver Spoon shows what Hiromu Arakawa can actually do. And what she can do is talk about agriculture. This is easily the most interesting agriculture series you could ever watch. It’s more interesting than Moyashimon because the characters are actually likable, and it’s got more heart to me than FMA ever did. It’s something unique, and watching Hachiken behave like a fish out of water at the school of agriculture just makes you want to watch until he’s finally on top of his surroundings and succeeding. In essence, the series sets out to do everything it wanted to do. I’d call that a success.
The World God Only Knows Goddess Arc: As a longtime reader of TWGOK, I was absolutely horrified at what Manglobe had done to my beloved series. First they fucked up Hayate, and now this? The previous seasons and the Tenri arc, along with the Kanon OVAs, were great, too! Why did it have to end up like this?
So to be fair it starts off pretty normal, and it seems like this adaptation will once again be a winner. Okay, cool. Then the flashbacks start. Because there were some key arcs such as Yui’s and Tsukiyo’s that were not covered in any of the seasons, it would stand to reason that they would be covered here. They can’t just skip over them, right? They’re way too important, right? But what’s that? This season is only scheduled for 12 episodes? For such a large arc? Gee, how are they going to manage that AND add in those important arcs necessary for viewer knowledge? I mean, because they can’t just skip over them, right? No way they can! Ha ha ha!
Sunday Without God: A sleeper hit. Something that I never thought I would enjoy so much. An intriguing premise. A light novel adaptation. Colorful characters. A journey of a young girl pretty much traveling alone on a journey across an abandoned world. At its best, it’s brilliant and flawlessly executed (the first two arcs). At its worst, it’s hackneyed and kind of rushed (Goran Academy). But overall, it has a really great feel and charm to it, and it feels unique, at least to me. Did I mention I’m a sucker for light novel adaptations?
Going Home Club: If there was ever a class on how to properly execute the Boke-Tsukkomi comedy routine, this would be the textbook. It’s funny every now and then, but once you get tired of that, there’s not much else there.
Monogatari Series: Second Season: Much like Maxwell House, the Monogatari series is good to the last drop. Anyone who knows me knows that this is my shit. I’ve read most of the novels now, and each arc is like reading the novel word for word all over again, and it’s so good every time.
Servant x Service: Did you like Working/Wagnaria? Then you’ll love this. Same author, same studio, same voice actors, pretty much the same characters. It’s fantastic. There’s more sugary sweet romance in this one, though, which is a welcome addition, as well as more Japanese social commentary. Also good to have a romance where the girl isn’t always trying to punch the guy’s lights out. Hasebe best girl.
Shingeki no Kyojin: This is a continuation. I’m reading the manga instead of watching the anime though. Though it was interesting for a long time due to the mystery of the Titans being at the forefront, the series has now devolved into Bleach-level large-panel Titan slugfests. Not as interesting for me anymore. The anime is a really good adaptation from what I’ve seen though. It refines Isayama’s ugly art and clears up his arbitrary order of events.
Watamote: Last but definitely not least is Watamote. Another brilliant adaptation by Oonuma Shin and Silver Link. I’m a huge fan of the manga and they really did it justice by not only having a stellar screenwriter that understands comedic timing but excellent diversity in animation styles. Also an amazing OP. I really think Shinbo would be proud of Shin for this one.
So that’s it for the opinion train. It’ll come back whenever the next season is close to finishing, I guess. Anything I didn’t cover means I haven’t watched it yet. Yes, that means Love Lab. I really have no excuse. Overall, good job, summer!