Summer 2016 – Anime Recommendations Part 3

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of TMS Entertainment, White Fox, and Ufotable

Now that we reached the last part of my recommendation list for the summer season, I have to say that this season has the potential to be the best one in recent memory.  I’m watching nine shows that are currently airing and I’ve been enjoying them all.  So let’s finish this list off with my final three recommendations.  I’m Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime feature.

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ReLife

I will keep my discussion about this show very brief because I want to make a full length review.  This series was a rarity in the sense that the episodes were released Netflix-style.  All of the episodes were made available on the same day, which made it a prime candidate for binge-watching.  Having already finished the run, I have to say that this series was a huge surprise with just how good it was.  A man named Arata is offered the opportunity to take part in an experiment which sees him returning to high school.  He is given medication to age him back the age of seventeen.  The basic premise sees this older deal with the different aspect of high school life.  A lot of comedy comes from these interactions and a lot of drama does as well.  This series is excellent at getting the audience to care about the characters.  I have two issues regarding the pacing and the animation, but I can’t recommend this show enough.

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Re:Zero

I was initially hesitant to start this series because I am tired of the trapped-in-another-world trope.  In all actuality, this series started last season, but it’s still going on.  I managed to catch up and I am a little mad at myself for not watching this sooner.  The story features a young man named Suburu as he is teleported to a new world.  He quickly comes into contact with a young woman named Emilia who has just suffered from a robbery.  Suburu decides to help her out and is quickly put into a world of conspiracy.  This show can be brutal to the characters.  Suburu receives the brunt of the brutality and it makes for a difficult watch at times.  The characters and the mystery form a rather cohesive package of excellence.  Every episode thus far has had some sort of revelation.  Rounding out the excellent story, the animation is also great.  There is no sense of hiding some of the more messed aspects of combat like other shows do.  This show is definitely deserving of a watch.  I am sixteen episodes in at this point and have been entertained with every episode.

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Tales of Zestiria the X

Ufotable brings to the table an adaptation of video game from the Tales series.  As with every Ufotable work, the animation is gorgeous.  From the action to the backgrounds, every aspect is perfect.  As for the story, Tales of Zestiria as a game had a plot that was heavily criticized.  Apparently, Ufotable is altering the story to address these problems.  As of right now, the series is still in its introduction.  Most of the episodes so far have been comprised of world building and character introduction.  The anime is receiving a split cour which means it will have a lot of episodes to build up the story.  As for the plot itself, a variety of awful events are occurring across the kingdom.  The princess, Alisha, goes off to investigate and she comes across a young man named Sorey.  There is also a lot of background information about a messiah-like figure known as the Shepherd.  The story has been entertaining, but I am more excited to see what happens when it really gets rolling.

That wraps up my recommendation list for the summer season.  You can check out ReLife and Re:Zero on Crunchyroll.  Tales of Zestiria the x is also available for streaming on Funimation and Daisuki.  I’ll be back next week for another anime review and thanks for checking this piece out.

Summer 2016 – Anime Recommendations Part 2

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Studio Bones, Doga Kobo, TMS Entertainment

It’s time to look at the next three recommendations for this summer season.  This part has quite the eclectic mix of shows.  Next week will be the third and final part.  As always, if any of you have more recommendations, be sure to leave a comment below.  I am Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime feature.

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Mob Psycho 100

From Studio Bones comes the adaptation of another web comic created by ONE.  This series features an eighth grader named Mob, who happens to be an extremely powerful psychic.  So far, the series had mostly followed Mob as he works for a supposed master psychic named Reigen.  Half of the comedy of the series has come from Reigen’s attempts to hide the fact that he is actually a fraud.  Mob Psycho 100 possesses the same comedic styling as One Punch Man.  It also has a rather unique animation style that is a close adaptation of ONE’s drawings.  Despite the goofy appearance at times, the animation is of a high quality.  This just hasn’t drawn me in yet.  I can’t exactly describe it, but I’m not falling in love with it as quickly as I did with One Punch Man.  Hopefully, the next few episodes will change this feeling.

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New Game!

This series wins my award for the show that I did not expect to watch this season.  It’s a show about a workplace which inevitably brings comparisons to Shirobako.  However, it’s in the slice-of-life genre.  So it would be correct to say it’s more like K-ON than Shirobako.  The series features a recent high school graduate as she begins to work at a game development studio as a CG artist.  Of course, you have a bunch of cute girls working on a video game.  There is no deep plot here, but the show is oozing with comedy from the interactions between the characters.  While it’s not an intense look into the development process, there has been a decent foray into explaining some of the concepts of making a game and Japanese work culture.  The animation has an expected quality.  It’s very bright and emphasizes the cute character design.  Overall, this show is my guilty pleasure of the season.

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Orange

In my First Look piece, this was the show that I was the most excited to check out.  So far, this anime has lived up to all of my expectations.  The main protagonist, Naho, receives a letter from her future self that details a list of regrets.  Her future self asks her to do things differently.  Most of these tasks involve preventing a tragedy that involves a new transfer student named Kakeru.  As expected, the series has been quite emotional already as Naho realizes her feelings for Kakeru.  There also is this sense of dread as time goes on because of the real fear of failing to prevent whatever happens to him.  In terms of plot, this show has been excellent so far.  The animation is also very well done.  The backgrounds are especially beautiful.  The facial expressions are also a highlight.  It’s a very bright aesthetic for what’s likely a heartbreaking anime.

You can check out all three of these shows on Crunchyroll.  I’ll be back next week to finish my anime recommendations for this season and as always, thanks for checking this piece out.

Summer 2016 – Anime Preview

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Zero-G, Silver Link, Studio Bones, and Telecom Animation Film

With the new anime season comes another list of anime that I am excited to check out.  Like always, I will actually make some recommendations a few weeks into the season, but for now, here is my planned watch list.

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Battery

I am a huge baseball fan and am always looking for another baseball anime to check out.  Battery looks like it will satiate this desire.  The series stars a highly talented pitcher that is unable to play to his potential because he lacks an equally talented catcher.  He’s a bit of a loner and a hothead until he manages to make a friend.  Based on the PVs, it appears that this series will carry a relatively soft style of animation.  It has potential and I can’t wait to check it out.

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Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 3rei!

This is a continuation of the highly popular Fate series spinoff.  I’ll admit the last two seasons have been focused too much on fan service.  The manga readers have reassured me though stating that this is the season where the story takes a rather drastic turn.  Those unfamiliar with the series should note that this is a solid magical girl spinoff, with surprisingly high quality animation.  Some of the previous action scenes have been astounding to look at it.  This season seems to be continuing with the trend of the previous seasons albeit with a darker story.

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Mob Psycho 100

Created by the same mind behind One Punch Man, Mob Psycho 100 looks to be just as crazy and interesting.  The main character is a powerful psychic that actively suppresses his emotions in order to keep his powers in control, but trouble seems to always find him.  Admittedly, I do not know too much about this series, but the animation looks gorgeous with a similar visual style as One Punch Man and also is likely to be a good watch.

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Orange

This anime looks like it will be in contention for the show of the season.  It’s too early to tell, but the manga readers continue to express just how good the story is.  A high school girl receives a letter from her future self, asking her to prevent a variety of regretful things from happening to a new transfer student.  It’s a romance show that seems like it will have a ton of emotional moments.  The animation seems to have a very clean look with very nice backgrounds.  Everything seems to be going for it and I hope it can live up to its potential.

That wraps up this relatively short feature for this week.  I’ll be back next week with another review.  I have a huge list of shows that I finished and I’m going to try to write a review for each one.  These are not in order, but here is the list:

  • My Little Monster
  • Cowboy Bebop
  • Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
  • Joker Game
  • And You Thought There Is Never A Girl Online?
  • Kiznaiver
  • My Teen Romantic Comedy Snafu
  • My Teen Romantic Comedy Snafu Too
  • Space Patrol Luluco
  • Little Witch Academia

Spring 2016 – Anime Recommendations Part 2

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Project I.G, Studio Trigger, and Studio Bones

Last week I covered three recommendations for the spring season.  So now it’s time for the second part where I cover the last three shows that I am currently watching.  If you missed last week’s piece, then be sure to check that one out as well. I’m Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime feature.

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Joker Game

I love media about espionage and the lives of spies.  This series focuses on the adventures of a variety of spies as they work for the Japanese government in the years just before their involvement in World War II.  This anime is also misleading.  At first it appears that the series will focus on Sakuma’s acceptance of espionage, but that quickly changes.  The series turns into an anthology as it focuses on a different spy every week as they carry out a mission ranging from escaping interrogation to finding the source of a resistance movement.  So those looking for an overarching story will be disappointed.  As for the animation, it’s fairly average.  It’s very difficult to tell which character is which as well.  The soundtrack is similar to Baccano as it has a great mix of jazz.  When combined, all the pieces form a highly entertaining show.

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Kiznaiver

This show is another crazy adventure from Studio Trigger.  Various high school students are linked in a mysterious experiment, which creates a large cast of main characters.  The gimmick is that they all share any pain that is inflicted on them.  So far the series has featured these characters as they try to accomplish missions designed to bring them closer together.  I don’t know where this series is going, but it looks like a fun romp that is largely based on character interaction.  I immediately want to quell any debate right now though, Chidori is best girl.  The animation is of very high quality and one of the standout aspects of this series.  The voice acting is of a similar quality as the cast manages to perfectly capture the comedic moments of the quirky characters.  If you liked Kill La Kill, this show is right up your alley.

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My Hero Academia

This is one of the best shows of the season.  Everyone needs to watch this.  The world is filled with people with superpowers known as quirks.  Naturally, heroes emerge as they use their quirks for the betterment of mankind.  The story follows Izuku Midoriya, a middle school student who does not have a quirk.  Despite not having a quirk, Izuku dreams of attending the prestigious U.A High School and becoming a hero.  His life is changed forever once he meets his idol, All Might, the world’s greatest hero.  This series is packed with emotion.  Every episode so far has some sort of emotional pay off that involves Izuku and this works to great effect.  The audience really feels his struggle to become a hero and is emotionally invested to see him succeed.  The voice acting is top notch and the soundtrack is phenomenal as well.  Studio Bones hit it out of the park again with their animation.  This is a great looking series.

You can check out Joker Game and Kiznaiver on Crunchyroll.  You can check My Hero Academia on Funimation.  If I pick up any more shows during the season, then I will gladly make a third part, but I don’t think that will happen.  I’ll be back next week for another review.  Thanks for checking this piece out.

Otaku Youth Title Plate

Spring 2016 – Anime Recommendations Part 1

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Project No. 9, Studio Wit, and Studio Pierrot

It’s about five weeks into the new anime season, so it’s time for a set of recommendations.  By this point, I have my watch list for the season.  I ended up dropping just two shows.  Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto was an entertaining watch, but every episode so far has been pretty much the same thing.  The initial charm and comedy wears off after about three episodes of viewing Sakamoto’s shenanigans.  I also dropped Ace Attorney.  I haven’t played any of the games so it never really clicked with me.  I have split these recommendation pieces into two parts, showcasing three this week and three next week.  So if I don’t cover a show this week that you’re a fan of, then I recommend checking out next week’s piece before commenting. I’m Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime feature.

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And You Thought There is Never a Girl Online?

This show was supposed to be my guilty pleasure of the season, but it is way better than I expected.  The story stars Hideki Nishimura, an avid gamer, as he meets his party members in real life for the first time.  Surprisingly, he discovers that they are all girls and attend the same school as him.  However, it’s not a harem show.  The series focuses on his growing relationship with Ako Tamaki, his in-game wife.  So far, the overall plot of the series has been getting Ako acclimated to a non-Otaku lifestyle and this plot is surprisingly sweet.  The animation itself is very well done.  The scenes that take place in a game are of a higher quality though.  The highlight is the excellent character design.  I absolutely love how each character looks.  This coupled with the excellent voice acting creates a highly entertaining show that is one of my favorites of this season.

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Twin Star Exorcists

This show is one of the more generic ones that I am watching, but it has heart.  The world features exorcists that fight demons known as the Kegare.  Each exorcist has a variety of special powers that allow them to battle these demons.  Now the twist with this show lies with story structure.  The main characters Rokuro and Benio are not destined to destroy the Kegare, rather their child is.  They are destined to marry and have a child who will basically be the exorcist messiah.  The problem is these two characters hate each other.  So naturally, I assume the plot will feature them growing closer as they have more experiences together.  As for the animation, it has a lot of stylized action scenes that make the action stand out quite a bit.  At certain times, it’s like a page of a graphic novel that has come to life.  Overall, this show is rather generic, but has enough differences to make it worth watching.

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Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

Initially categorizing this as an Attack on Titan rip-off was a mistake.  While there are some basic similarities, this show is actually quite different.  Humanity is under siege by zombie like creatures known as Kabane.  Kabane can infect humans by biting them, creating more Kabane.  So humans are forced to live in walled cities and travel between them through armored trains.  The story places a large focus on Ikoma and the mysterious Mumei as they escape a Kabane attack.  The animation of this series is absolutely gorgeous.  The action scenes are so well done that they are a visual treat.  The character design is a throwback to the slightly realistic designs of many anime from the 1990’s.  When you add in the music by Hiroyuki Sawano, this anime is an absolute treat.  I would say it’s tied for my favorite show of the season right now.

You can check out And You Thought There is Never a Girl Online? on Funimation, Twin Star Exorcists on Crunchyroll and Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress on Amazon Prime.  I’ll be back next week to cover the next three shows that I am recommending for this season and one of them will make you feel like becoming a hero.

Otaku Youth Title Plate

Winter 2016 – Anime Recommendations Part 2

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Kyoto Animation and Studio Deen.

I am currently recovering from an elbow injury and a subsequent bad reaction to medication, so this week’s piece will be relatively short as a result. The winter season has been a solid season of anime so far. As we continue towards the end of the season, I have a few more recommendations from this season. Again, this does not mean that these shows are all amazing, but have been entertaining enough to keep me watching.

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Myriad Colors Phantom World

This season’s work by Kyoto Animation is rather generic, but entertaining. The release of an experimental virus has allowed humans to see extra-dimensional beings called phantoms. Some children born after the outbreak have developed special powers that allow them to battle and banish phantoms. Naturally, the anime follows a group of high school students because everything in anime needs to involve a high school. There is no overarching story, but rather an episodic focus. It is mostly focused on dealing with the personal feelings and backgrounds of the main character’s harem. The characters are not anything special, but are somewhat interesting. So if you do not like harem shows, then you won’t like this. The animation quality is superb and the music is pretty good as well. It’s a fairly average show, but keeps me watching from some reason.

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KONOSUBA

Now this is another show with a similar concept to Sword Art Online, but with an added comedic twist. The story follows a recently deceased otaku as he gets offered a chance to be resurrected. A goddess will revive him if he defeats the Demon King of another world. In a bout of spite, the goddess gets sent to this world with the otaku as well. From there, a cast of quirky characters is introduced ranging from a masochistic knight and a mage that loves explosion magic. This series is a superb comedy and that is what sets it apart from the rest of the SAO clones. The animation is good as well, but the main focus is the comedy. It is definitely a much watch of this season.

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Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

This show is the only one other than ERASED to have a shot of being the show of the season. The story focuses on the pursuit of a traditional Japanese performance art called rakugo. At first it follows the story of an ex-convict trying to get into the world of Rakugo. From there, it largely goes into a flashback regarding the story of the rakugo sensei of the ex-convict. The story is an adult-centric story about the pursuit of a craft and it is really compelling. The Rakugo performances are outstanding and highlight a rather unknown tradition to western audiences. The animation is beautiful as well and perfectly styles the traditional motif. That’s it for my anime recommendations for this season; I’ll be back next week for another review.

Winter 2016 – Anime Recommendations Part 1

Written by Bananaowns

This week I am taking a break from my typical review format to recommend some shows that are currently airing. It’s been a few weeks since the winter season has started and I’ve been able to sample a handful of shows. Now these recommendations are based on the quality of these shows so far, which means that maybe some of these shows might falter in quality as the season progresses. It’s also important to note that I haven’t been able to watch everything, so your favorite show might not be covered by this piece. By all accounts, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu is an amazing show, I just haven’t had time to check it out yet. With that said, here are some of my recommendations for this current anime season.

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GATE & Koyomimonogatari

I am categorizing these two into the same section because they are not really new for this season. GATE is a continuation from the fall season, while Koyomimonogatari is a collection of side stories from the Monogatari series. So there really isn’t anything new to say about these two, if you enjoyed either of these series, then you’ll enjoy these continuations. Just note that in the case of GATE, the storylines have matured quite a lot, especially compared to the first season. Koyomimonogatari is just a collection of short stories that doesn’t possess the same gravitas as the Monogatari series proper, but is great if you loved the characters of that series.

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AOKANA: Four Rhythm Across the Blue

AOKANA: Four Rhythm Across the Blue is my guilty pleasure of this season. It is a fairly average show in some respects, but manages to be highly entertaining. The story involves antigravity footwear that allows people to fly. Naturally a sport called Flying Circus emerges from this development and the show follows high school students as they join the school’s Flying Circus Team. The characters are fairly one dimensional, but the draw of the series is in its beautiful animation. The Flying Circus scenes are animated perfectly, and I enjoy the 3D animation as well. The 3D animation surprisingly fits the flying scenes very well. This anime lacks the depth of the others, but is very enjoyable in its own way.

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Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash is the perennial Sword Art Online clone. There’s pretty much one of these in every season, but this show manages to circumvent the burdens of that categorization. Yes, the main characters are trapped in a fantasy world, with the potential of a very real death. However, this show is slower paced, with more of a focus on the characters. It addresses just how someone would deal with being thrust into this situation, where you have to kill or be killed. Given this mentality, it’s no surprise that this show actually is pretty heavy at times. Now the animation for this show can only be described as watching a moving watercolor painting. It is one of the most aesthetically pleasing shows that I have watched. The watercolor motif makes every frame of this show absolutely beautiful. So far this animation quality has not seen a single dip. Given the story and animation, Grimgar is looking to be one of the better shows of the season.

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ERASED

Now I’m going to start this off by saying that everyone should be watching ERASED. It has the potential to be the best show of the season. The show features a main protagonist with the ability to go back in time, usually to prevent some sort of tragedy. He witnesses the aftermath of a murder and finds that he has traveled back in time to when he was in elementary school. The murder had something to do with a series of disappearances that happened when he was just a kid. So the show is basically a murder mystery with a time travel element. It reminds me a lot of the game; Life is Strange, which is a great thing. Every episode thus far, has had a series of twists and turns as the protagonist struggles to change the future and solve this case. It’s also interesting to see how he deals with being a child again, as he notices that his memory did lapse quite a bit into adulthood, skewing his perception on what actually happened. So far, ERASED has been a visual masterpiece. The animation is amazing and stylized with a cinematic look as well. It really feels like an anime movie that has just been cut into 24 minute parts. Judging by the quality so far, I absolutely cannot wait to see how this story plays out. This is the rare show that makes me impatient as the week goes on. Thursday cannot come fast enough so I get my fix of ERASED.

Final Thoughts

You can check out GATE, AOKANA: Four Rhythm Across the Blue, and ERASED on Crunchyroll. Grimgar of Fantasy of Ash is available from Funimation. Koyomimonogatari might prove to be a difficult find as the series is currently being released on a Japanese phone app. If you enjoy the Monogatari series immensely, then it is worth it to go the extra step to watch this series. As for me, I will check out Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu and Myriad Colors Phantom World, in the coming weeks. I’ll be back next week for a review of Kekkai Sensen.