Taste Test: Summer 2015

summer 2015 header

Another anime season has begun, and another list of seasonal anime has come my way. Having recently looked at a couple of shows from the spring selection, I thought it was only fair to see how things were looking for summer.

Once again the sheer number of shows involved meant I had to be ruthless in what I would sample. I chose the two shows I thought looked most and least promising, based purely on the single image and synopsis shown on the summer 2015 anime list. An ability to avoid performing basic research is one of my greatest strengths!

summer 2015 1

Most Promising: Akagami no Shirayuki-hime / Snow White with the Red Hair

Once again, there wasn’t much for the season that really looked good. This seemed like the pick of the bunch – at least it should be colourful, and I have a bit of a weakness for romance in a classical fantasy setting. I thought there would be a goodly quantity of swooning and angst as obstacles got in the way of the designated love interests, but I was willing to tolerate that in the hopes it would be buoyed up by other characters. I have to say, though, that I wasn’t expecting great things.

But it actually turned out better than I had anticipated. The promise of bright colourful visuals was fulfilled, and the plot and characterisation were especially pleasing. While there was indeed a certain amount of swooning, the writing was also quite tight and clever, verging on – but not crossing over into – being comedic at times.

I also want to praise the pacing of the show. These sorts of shows often drag for me, but this one absolutely didn’t. In fact I was surprised at the end of the episode, and had to check the timer to make sure that yes, it really had been 24 minutes. There was an awful lot to pack into the episode, and they rattled through it at a pretty fair clip – it almost felt rushed in places. But I certainly wasn’t looking at my watch during it and it held my attention the entire time, which is a pretty good sign.
The first episode was more or less self-contained, and there’s scope in the industry for something like this which relies on episodic content. If they keep on with it Snow White with the Red Hair could end up being quite an interesting piece of work.

Really, Zen? REALLY?

Really, Zen? REALLY?

It isn’t flawless, of course. Some of the dialog borders on inane occasionally (see above!) and there is far too much sparkling for my tastes. But that is essentially a matter of personal preference, and if you’re watching something like this deliberately you’re probably adequately mentally prepared for it. Snow White is bright and fairly cheerful, and I rather liked it. Watson’s Verdict: recommended.

summer 2015 3

Least Promising: Bikini Warriors

Weirdly enough, this was the show that I was looking forward to most. Just read the synopsis: “The setting is a an RPG-style world with swords and magic, where adventurers form a party to challenge the demon king’s right to rule. But, the adventurers all have beautiful breasts, enormous breasts, and bikini armor!!”

A breastacular trainwreck of a show with no redeeming features at all? Fucking SOLD, where do I sign up?!? Despite having used up most of my breast puns on Triage X, I saw no way in which this could possibly go right. Still, Bikini Warriors managed to surprise me several times.

First off, it was blessedly short – barely four minutes for the first episode. And I think this was actually a very good move, since it means that there’s only one “point” needed for each episode. Once that’s been addressed, the show is over for the week. This would be incredibly bad for ongoing story-telling, but lets be honest: I really don’t think that will be a concern for anyone involved. Secondly, it also addressed the inherent ridiculousness of bikini armour. Admittedly this took the form of hanging a lampshade on it by comparing them to swimsuits, but it showed a degree of self-awareness I wasn’t expecting. The combat sequences, if they can be dignified with the term, also seemed like nothing so much as an anime representation of a typical JRPG battle with all the characters politely taking turns to be melted by flashy attacks. This was a surprise, but I have to wonder why they bothered.

But what of the characters themselves? We don’t actually know very much about them. They don’t seem to have names, and the only descriptions center around their breasts and clothing (or lack thereof). One has dark skin with blonde hair, and when I heard her speak I got momentarily excited: she had a deep voice, and seemed a lot like one of the drow I remember from D&D. I have fond memories of them as strong female characters – matron mothers know best! – and there was a fleeting hope that she might be playing against the other characters in terms of stereotype. Sadly this hope was dashed on the cruel rocks of reality, and she turned out to be just another over-endowed bikini warrior and not an exile from the Demonweb Pits. May Lolth, in her dark majesty, grant them the doom they deserve.

Lolth_the_Demon_Queen_of_Spiders

Lolth, the Demon Queen of Spiders. Mercy isn’t really a drow trait.

Perhaps most surprisingly of all, the breasts in Bikini Warriors just aren’t very good. Yes, they’re large and gravity-defying; and yes, their titular apparel displays them magnificently. But a large part of the “action” (and I use the term loosely) is based on seeing the breasts under various forms of attack, and there’s no other way to say this: breasts don’t move like that! Those readers with access to a pair can conduct their own experiments to verify what I say, but let me assure you that if they are vibrating like they are made of hard rubber then something is drastically wrong. I simply cannot comprehend how a show which is entirely about boobs could have managed to make them so unappealing in motion. Watson’s Verdict: disappointing.

Question of the Post: What looks best and worst from the chart? And are there any good anime featuring dark elves?

About Dr. J.H. Watson

I’m a New Zealander, in my 30s, and until recently I lived in rural Japan. I have interests in history, pop culture, video games, and the clever use of language.
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14 Responses to Taste Test: Summer 2015

  1. Bear says:

    This has been a really disappointing season so far. Some of the few shows that I’ve felt positive about (though I’m still giving them a 3ep Rule) are:

    Ushio to Tora: Real old school designs on the characters and some OTT slapstick shounen style, but the characters are enjoyable at this point.

    Jitsu wa Watashi wa: Vampire girl, alien girl and that’s just the first two episodes. I’m surprised that I’ve liked it as much as I have.

    Working!!! The three exclamation points tell you that this is the third and last(as I understand it) cour. If you liked the previous cours you won’t be disappointed in this one. Same characters, same jokes though their have been some changes in their relationships.

    Worst? Of those I’ve watched Himouto! Umari-chan ranks at the bottom. Story about a spoiled lazy brat who somehow is the school beauty, athletic star, and academic wiz when she’s there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Himouto! Umari-chan sounds like a complete waste of bandwidth. I really dislike protagonists like that. I quite liked the first series of Working!, but I’m not sure they needed 3 seasons of it. Still, if you’re on to a good thing, I guess…

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      • Bear says:

        Well, you sucked me in on Shirayuki-hime. I wasn’t going to watch but, so far, the FL (and the ML for that matter) have been pretty good with the ML not the brooding pretty boy and the FL not the damsel waiting for the ML to rescue her. Glad I took you’re recommendation though there ain’t much going on this season for me.

        As for Working, the main draw for me is that they’re going to wrap things up from the romance standpoint with Satou and Yuchino looking like they’re going to get together as well as Inami and Souta. Maybe we’ll even find out what Yamada’s deal is.

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  2. Artemis says:

    I was likewise pleasantly surprised by Shirayuki-hime – I was expecting melodrama with an overlong build-up, and yet the show so far has been refreshingly light-hearted with breezy pacing. It’s also fantastic to see a main female character who’s already so capable and independant. Yes, this is a shoujo piece, so I expect her to be saved multiple times by the dashing prince, but I dig that Shirayuki can and does cheerfully look out for herself. However, my favourite anime of the season is definitely Gangsta. I’m really enjoying the gritty atmosphere and the two main characters, who are happily psychopathic… er, I mean lovable scamps with a solid bromance going on.

    Liked by 2 people

    • John Samuel says:

      I’m adoring Shirayuki as a character. Feisty, capable, and even in the classic damsel in distress scene in episode 2 manages to about 80% rescue herself by being downright CLEVER.

      So long as her character doesn’t decay into the damsel from this point, I suspect I’m going to end up a big fan of this show.

      Like

      • Artemis says:

        Yeah, I’m likewise really impressed by Shirayuki as a character; it’s great to see such an obviously capable and cheerfully independent woman take a lead role. This is pretty classic shoujo stuff so I expect her to be saved multiple times by the dashing prince, but this strikes me as being a matter mostly of demographic convenience. In terms of actual story, Shirayuki seems more than smart and strong-willed enough to do her own saving.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, that’s pretty much my feeling as well about Shirayuki-hime. I’m rather less impressed by the dashing prince, actually, but then again I’m hardly the target audience.

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  3. Alex Hurst says:

    I’ll have to check out the Snow White one; it does seem interesting… and I have the same weakness for romantics in a classical fantasy setting (It’s why I oddly liked Emma, even though it was paced as slow as hell, it worked for Victorian England).

    The shortness of the Boobies! anime is definitely a good move. Seems like they understand the punchline…. but as far as physics go… I think Japan threw that out the window with Dead or Alive a long time ago. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Snow White one seems pretty good – it is relevant to my interests, as the saying goes. As for Boobie!Warriors… well, I watched the second episode, purely out of a sense of morbid curiosity. While there are still amusing things coming through (nice to see the ridiculous economics of fantasy adventure game settings get a nod) it seems to have descended even further into fan-service (if that was even possible). I suppose its only 4 minutes of your life wasted at a time, but I don’t feel like it has much going for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I liked Bikini Warriors. The comedy was funny. I wasn’t too concerned that the boob physics aren’t the breast I have ever seen.

    Like

  5. Pingback: Really That Bad?: Vampire Holmes | Speculative OP

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