Dear readership, we know you come to Arama not only for the best in Japanese entertainment news, but guidance in what you should be reading, watching, and listening to (and what to avoid). That, and also because I hate myself, is why I’m going to review some of the most anticipated anime of the summer 2014 season for you.
Ideally, there would be 3 of these. One for action oriented shows and another for er.. series that are not as easily categorized.
I’ll be rating on a scale of 1-5, and of course these are my own opinions. It takes all types of waifus to make the world go round, or something. As for how I chose the shows, I picked a selection of series I thought might be appealing to you and divided it by what I could stand to watch. That means Love Stage didn’t make the list because I could only get through 3 minutes of it, but Locodol did, because I didn’t really feel like dying until the last 5 minutes, and I was able to stick it out. Also, I firmly believe that the world only needs one prominent boys love series about idols, and that is Gravitation. All that being said, let’s get this started.
Blue Spring Ride
Futaba Yoshioka wants to “reset” her life. In junior high, girls ostracized Yoshioka because too many junior high boys liked her. The only boy Yoshioka liked, Kou Tanaka, moved away before she could tell him how she felt. Now in high school, Yoshioka is determined to be unladylike so her new friends will not become jealous of her. While living her new life contentedly, she meets Kou again, but he now uses the name Kou Mabuchi and has a cold attitude. He tells her that he liked her too in junior high, but feels differently now.
The review (Ep 1 + 2)
I went back and forth on this show constantly, before I watched it. On one hand, I want to support the revitalization of shoujo anime. On the other hand, how generic is this? When I actually watched it, two things stuck out to me. This show is beautiful even though all the male character designs look alike and it’s already been licensed by Sentai Filmworks. The main character, Futaba Yoshioka, is as sympathetic as any other heroine, but luckily not particularly stupid (except in love, but who isn’t?) The boy she likes, Mabuchi a.k.a the artist formerly known as Tanaka, is more tiring. Do you have to be so smug about your name change? Are you still this mad over a comment you heard while you were eavesdropping in 8th grade? He’s a hypocrite too. Futaba felt ostracized in middle school because she was too popular, since that’s apparently a problem you can have in the Japanese school system. Girls didn’t like her and boys chased after her.
After making a comment about “hating all boys” (except Tanaka, but that was only implied ok) he got all mopey and changed schools the next semester due to a convenient parental divorce. This depressed Futaba, who totally changed her personality from a shy priss pants to an outgoing Misato Katsuragi in training. When they inevitably meet again
Tanaka Mabuchi calls her out on this, but he’s also totally changed into a more out going person. He tells her that they’ve both changed too much and that they shouldn’t be together.
Before I go any further, I would like to remind everyone that it is normal and healthy to explore various facets of your personality during adolescence and young adulthood, and if anyone ever chastises you for being different than you were at 14, you have the right to punch them. Anyway, despite all of this posturing, Tanaka is caring, honest, and kind..enough. And duh, he obviously still has feelings for Futaba, who is not ready to take no for an answer. The second episode sets up some development for a friendship between Futaba and and a girl who’s just like she used to be.
You should watch this show if you want to see a romance where the leads actually speak to each other before half way through the series, or if you want to see a show about a school full of pressed never nudes and the 6 people who defy their cold social ritual.
Monthly Girl’s Nozaki-kun
High school student Chiyo Sakura has a crush on schoolmate Umetarō Nozaki, but when she confesses her love to him, he mistakes her for a fan and gives her an autograph. When she says that she always wants to be with him, he invites her to his house and has her help on some drawings. Chiyo discovers that Nozaki is actually a renowned shōjo manga artist named Sakiko Yumeno. She then agrees to be his assistant in order to get closer to him. As they work on his manga Let’s Fall in Love (恋しよっ Koi Shiyo?, Let’s Have a Romance), they encounter other schoolmates who assist them or serve as inspirations for characters in the stories.
The Review (Ep 1+ 2)
This is one of my favorites of the season so far. Just like in Blue Spring Ride, our heroine, Sakura, has an unrequited crush. Unlike in Blue Spring ride, Nozaki just cannot figure it out. This is a comedy, and a pretty good one (Toradora teas tbh).Starting with the embarrassing failed love confession, Sakura won my heart. I’m pretty sure Sakura’s also won the heart of Nozaki, who is tall, weird, sort of dull, and secretly a shojo mangaka. The comedy is how oblivious to that he is. There’s not too much to say about this, probably because I like it, but all the strong personalities on display in this show alone make it worth watching. The introduction of Mikorin, who is so much of a tsundere bishounen stereotype that he is embarrassed of himself, and Yuzuki, who is such an offensive screw up that the student body keep her around as an example of how not to behave round out the first 2 episodes well. The physical comedy usually hits, though when it misses you can really see the show’s 4 panel comic roots showing, and the character designs are interesting and varied. There’s a great bicycle gag, and Nozaki’s reaction to Sakura’s misunderstood love confessions (giving her an autograph, even after she’s working with him) doesn’t get old.
This won’t annoy you, and you’ll probably laugh. That’s all you can hope for from an anime series in 2014.
Sailor Moon Crystal
The series begins with a 14-year-old schoolgirl named Usagi Tsukino befriending Luna, a talking cat who reveals Usagi’s identity as Sailor Moon, a magical “pretty soldier in a sailor suit” destined to save Earth from the forces of evil. Luna accompanies Usagi to assemble a team of fellow Sailor Soldiers, find Princess Serenity and the “Legendary Silver Crystal” (「幻の銀水晶」 Maboroshi no Ginzuishō?, lit. “Phantom Silver Crystal”). The journey leads them to the studious Ami Mizuno, who awakens as Sailor Mercury; Rei Hino, a local shrine maiden who awakens as Sailor Mars; Makoto Kino, who awakens as Sailor Jupiter; and Mamoru Chiba, a young man who also assists them as Tuxedo Mask. A young aspiring idol named Minako Aino, who also operates as Sailor Venus, also joins them, accompanied by her feline companion Artemis.
I love Sailor Moon with the passion of 1000 heart crystals. I wanted this to be the best thing I’ve ever seen. My cold, black heart stirred when I saw the opening. The character designs are going to take some getting used to but this is Usagi Tsukino and the Sailor Senshi’s big return. I’ll get over the even bigger eyes and tinier waists. I’ll even excuse the way overdone CGI transformation sequences. Usagi hasn’t changed, and if anything this first episode of Sailor Moon Crystal is tighter, more cohesive, and faster moving than the original ever was. Mamoru is back too of course, and he’s as weird and vaguely useless as ever. This show is aware of it’s roots, and the time period it was conceived in. No shoujo or magical girl conventions are thrown to the wayside for the sake of modernity. The iconic characters and designs are just that. This is the same first episode of Sailor Moon as the original in 1992, minus some filler conversations at school and slight playing down of how dumb and lazy Usagi was at the beginning of the original anime. 14 year old Usagi Tsukino finds a mysterious talking cat who gives her powers, which she uses to turn into Sailor Moon and save her best friend Naru (remember Naru?) and her mother from a mysterious evil force. Tuxedo Mask wears a tuxedo in the middle of the day for seemingly no reason and throws a rose. Luckily Ami is getting introduced next episode, so it looks like fans of the inner senshi don’t have to wait 2 years to see their favorite character introduced.
The new art style can be off putting, but it’s Sailor Moon.
What are you watching this season Arama?