No Poor Choices: My Experience with Anime Summer 2015 Thus Far

How are my dear readers enjoying the new anime season?  On my side, I’m enjoying all my picks, though one show notably falls short of the rest in quality.  At any rate, these kinds of posts tend to run long, so let’s jump right into the anime.

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1) Aoharu x Machinegun

Here’s a lighthearted comedy with just enough seriousness to make the plot interesting.  The first episode featured our heroine, Hotaru Tachibana, being dragged into an airsoft team after picking a fight with an innocent host, who happens to be her neighbor.  The matches thus far have been quite suspenseful.  Even though the characters are not terribly original, the anime manages to immerse the viewer in their struggles and keeps the viewer eager to watch each new stage in our heroine’s journey.  Another plus is how much it reminds me of my favorite show of last year: Sabagebu!

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2) Gangsta!

For some reason, American mob films have never appealed to me; however, I’ve yet to run across a bad yakuza anime.  Curiously, of the shows Anime-Planet users recommend to fans of Gangsta!, I’ve seen all except Michiko to Hatchin and have enjoyed the rest.  Gangsta! sets itself apart from other yakuza anime in having better world building.  Only Gungrave comes close to it in this regard.  The heroes fascinate one by how they try to live in a world of violence and exploitation with some honor.  The sword vs. gun fights are utterly unrealistic, but most of the fights are very exciting.  However, fans who don’t like bloody violence, sexual situations (the show has eschewed explicit sex thus far), or nudity should give Gangsta! a wide berth.

Gate harem

3) Gate

If any show on this list might deserve to be rated poorly, Gate would be it.  Many people have picked on the over-the-top nationalism present in the show, but I won’t here.  (Also, excessive nationalism is better than it’s opposite: oikophobia.  See Scruton’s usage.  Who knew that hatred of one’s country had a name?)  This show had an intriguing opening episode which introduced us to a great main character.  The second episode depressingly reminded one of WWI with the massive casualties inflicted on the fantasy race.  (By the way, the fact that there were no survivors is utterly unrealistic: there are always more wounded than dead on a battlefield, even in modern warfare, unless the enemy deliberately finishes them off with a bullet or the bayonet.)  The three member female harem strikes me as interesting, but I’m eagerly awaiting the episode quality to become better.  Be sure to read Jusuchin’s blog, as he’s also reading the light novels* in addition to watching the show, which gives him an interesting perspective.

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4) Rokka no Yuusha

This show has the most common good vs. evil plot there is and some rather typical characters, but it still manages to be quite fun.  It has great fights, a good sense of humor, and well integrated CG.  The discord between Flamie and the other braves as well as the question of who the fake brave is add layers of interest as well as the Incan feel of the setting.  A very interesting tale despite its simplicity.

Anyone else look at that and think

Anyone else look at that and think “Iron Reaver, Soul Stealer”?

5) Ushio to Tora

If you like the monster-slaying genre and are a fan of Inuyasha, this is the show for you.  The action is quite fun, but the show truly shines in how well it crafts the monster Tora.  Tora might be called a cross between Inuyasha (abrasive personality) and Pikachu (lightning attacks), but his personality feels decidedly inhuman.  He’s constantly attempting to eat the hero, but at the same time bails him out of bad situations.  I’m almost tempted to call Tora a tsundere youkai.

Now, on to a couple of shows from the past which I have picked up in addition to the new shows above.

Major Armstrong

6) FMA: Brotherhood

Most of my viewers have seen this classic.  I’ll just write here that I’m pleasantly surprised by how close it has been following the manga, even though the plot moves too quickly at times.  Some of the changes in animation irked me.  Other than that, I have no complaints.

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7) The Rose of Versailles

Am I happy that iblessall recommended this show!  A ton of research went into crafting the setting of Pre-Revolutionary France.  Who knew that Marie Antoinette could be made into such a sympathetic character?  Also, we have a very interesting heroine in Oscar de François de Jarjeyes, who was raised as a boy because her father lacked a male heir.  Her education included how to handle a sword (Small sword, colichemarde, or infantry saber?  Not precisely sure what the anime wants to depict), and her closest friend is her fencing partner and servant Andre.  The plot feels very much like an Alexandre Dumas novel (my favorite author) with its court intrigue and exciting duels.  Excepting the cut she delivers from horseback, the swordplay has remained pretty accurate, which adds interest for me.  You’ll likely hear much more about this anime from me later.

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*Correction: Jusuchin is reading the manga actually, not the light novels.  It still offers a unique perspective.

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17 comments on “No Poor Choices: My Experience with Anime Summer 2015 Thus Far

  1. Genki Jason says:

    I’m surprised at all the hate that Gate seems to be getting. As far as I’m concerned it’s an inconsequential fantasy anime and while I did think the depiction of massive casualties in the first battle was ridiculous, the rest of it has been mildly entertaining.

    Ushio to Tora is the top title this season. I’m only two episodes into Gangsta. but it’s intriguing me.

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    • I think that most of the animosity toward Gate comes from how interesting the first episode is. Unfortunately, the story moves very slowly after that, which is probably frustrating most watchers. I’m still hoping that the empire is able to present the JSDF a real threat.

      I’d place Gangsta! as my favorite so far with Ushio to Tora coming next. With the latter, I’m surprised how well the Inuyasha-like relationship between the main characters works.

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  2. I want to clarify I’ve yet to start on the Light Novels, but fully up to date on the Manga. As for the critique on the excessive nationalism, I do admit that’s how I was when I went into it, but as the one above me has said, it’s now falling into an ‘inconsequential fantasy anime’. Though at this point I’m more irked at how Rory and Shino looks. Rory looks much more powerful, fitting of her death-god in goth loli form, in the manga. Shino (Kuribayashi), reminds me of Maya from Kantai Collection. The short haired tomboy. I don’t get that with this version of her.

    I imagine Gate is just one of the many titles now coming about that’s stoking the fires of the Japanese right wing (early Kantai Collection seemed this way to me as well). It doesn’t help that it was written undoubtedly by a soldier. The visual gun porn is always orgasmic in Japanese anime, but when reading the manga, I could feel as if the author’s experience with the JGSDF was slowly seeping in, adding a touch of the familiar that latches onto military otaku such as myself.

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    • The way anime fantasy are these days makes me nostalgic for the 90’s. It sounds like the manga is much better done–as is so often the case. I’m just going to keep my fingers crossed that the animators won’t continue to imagine that watching a death loli, Deedlit look-alike, and cute sorceress strut about on screen is enough for those watching this show.

      Guns are cool. I’ve unfortunately lost touch with firearms over the years (hoping to get back into the hobby soon); otherwise, that aspect of the show would be more intriguing to me. The author’s experience in the JGSDF is probably more apparent in the manga than in the show.

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  3. David A says:

    Aoharu x Machinegun:

    Crosdresser or androginous charaters still are a popular choice for manga and anime authors. Why?

    Does that series presents situations where eventually the protagonist ends acting too much like the sex she is disguised as? for example, romantic interactions.

    And Sabagebu, how it ended regarding content ? (fanservice, yuri (?), etc?). Thanks.

    Gangsta!

    The problems you describe seem to feature in the manga, according to mangaupdates. But, there isn’t an obscured sex scene in the first episode? (although maybe that doesn’t counts as very “explicit”). The nudity you mention is censored?

    Gate:

    The premise is interesting and could work with a better story (compared to what has been shown so far). I’ve read complains of some people that want the level of “mature contenet” featured in the manga (basically, according to mangaupdates and the comments of some people, uncensored nudity, sexual scenes, and gore). So far the anime has featured censored nudity (mostly by camera and comppsitions), and some stupid double entendre jokes in the scenes where the dark catgilr meets the protagonist. Also, the focus on the Empire machinaions has diminished in the recent episodes.

    A problem with these stories, is how they are going to show the invaders, as just pillagers, or as people with a higher purpose?

    About the nationalist and military part, I keep reading the acussations about being a right wing show, etc. But nationalism and militarism are present in left movements and goverments too. I think today right wing has become a loosely defined term. Kantai Collection was mentioned by another commentarist here. I guess that in that context (Japan) militarism and nationalism counts as something “right wing”. Because if we are going with a definition that is near the concepts of tradition and conservatism, no way these shows are going to be representative of that. At least going by the contents (the aforementioned nudity and sexual scenes from the Gate manga, and the fanservice [and yuri elements, if the anime is included] from KC*.

    *I didn’t finished that series. Only watched the first and second episode I think.

    Ushio to Tora: basically, that is another show where the protagonists fights evil with evil?

    FMA: Brotherhood

    I watched it years ago. In some aspects, is beter than the first series. Still, some things are not that good. Like the deity character at the other side of the gate, and some elements shared with other shonen series (clothing designs in some female characters, the character design and effeminacy of the male character where Winry worked in Rush Valley, etc).

    As an adventure series works well, with many layers of story and interesting characters and places. Regarding fanservice, typical bathing scenes with censored nudity, and some clothing designs in female characters, and some of the cards put before and after commercials.

    The Rose of Versailles:

    It features the problems mentioned in my comments about Aoharu x Machinegun? Also, how accurate is the representation of the epoch and historical characters?

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    • I have a few guesses about why many anime feature androgynous characters, but the reason likely varies with the mangaka. In this case, dressing in a boy’s uniform highlights Tachibana as a tomboy. It works, though occasionally I wonder why she gave up on being more feminine–her best friend might be said to be an archetype of femininity. Tachibana’s attracted to men, but one gets the sense that she’s not particularly comfortable around them.

      Sabagebu’s a black comedy, so the show uses various vices, including a lesbian’s infatuation with the heroine, for the purpose of humor. I remarked in a prior review of the show that viewers will either find the comedy hilarious or atrocious.

      Yes, in Gangsta!, there is a very obscured sex scene, but the depravity of the heroine prostituting herself is palpable. Most of the nudity comes from the way the heroine gads about immodestly clad, though there are other sources. (At this point, one wonders why she does not dress more decently. After all, covering more of her body would show that she had broken with her past as a prostitute; but, perhaps, she still thinks of herself as one though she has since become our heroes’ secretary.) Basically, the show accurately represents the criminal underbelly of society.

      Right wing has become so loose a term that many people simply label bad guys as right wing. For example, the Nazis and the Iranian Ayatollah are labelled right wing, but many of their deeds align more with socialist or communist ideals. (The Nazis even called themselves socialists.) But, right wing in reference to Gate describes its pro-military and patriotic vision, which is rather refreshing for an anime. Hopefully, we get more elements specific to conservatism beyond that. I haven’t watched enough Kantai Collection to see how right wing would actually apply to a show about girls with ship armaments battling alien invaders. 🙂 And, I hope that Gate steers clear of some of the more gruesome scenes from the manga, which were no doubt added for realism. Reminds me of the book, Furies, which I reviewed a while back.

      If you liked Inuyasha, you’ll like Ushio to Tora. Unlike many anime, this one features the traditional conflict of good vs. evil.

      I’m quite surprised by how much historical accuracy they put into The Rose of Versailles: many less well known figures from history are included in the tale. (I had never heard of Fersen before.) The heroine has a more reasonable excuse for dressing as a man than most characters: her father lacked a male heir and basically forced Oscar to be educated as a man. One senses some pain in Oscar for being cut off from usual feminine pursuits (in this regard, Marie Antoinette acts as a foil), but she fulfills her duty admirably. And, there once lived an incredibly dangerous French female fencer, so Oscar’s skill level is not that far fetched. In virtue, I am happy to say, Oscar is head and shoulders above the historical figure to whom I allude. 🙂

      If anything is historically inaccurate, it might be the series’ harping on the starving general populace. After reading Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s book Leftism, I’m not so sure if the masses were as badly off as many historians try to make it seem. But, the show can be forgiven for accepting such a generally held view. I wish there were more historical fictions in anime like The Rose of Versailles.

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  4. David A says:

    Happy Feast of Saint Ignatius Loyola!

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  5. Josh W says:

    I should pick up Versailles again. I watched the first episode not too long ago, liked it, and then promptly failed to ever follow up on it – something which is rather common for me.

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  6. MIB says:

    I’m afraid I barely lasted two episodes of Aoharu x Machinegun. Just didn’t click with me. :-\

    GATE is quite fun for what it is while Gangsta is that gritty Black lagoon-esque show anime has been lacking for a while.

    I’m sure you are aware that FMA: Brotherhood is the second anime attempt at this franchise. The first version caught up with the manga too soon so the story diverges into a new one half way through written by the studio which was wildly different from the manga.

    This is why the early episodes of Brotherhood are rushed because the material has already been covered in the first series until they reach the point where the story veered off into the non-canon material. From then on the pace settles down although the manga was STILL running when this adaptation ended too! >.<

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    • I’m a fan of fighting sports, so I find it easy to like shows like Aoharu x Machinegun. Another friend of mine does not care for it either.

      I figured that that was the reason for the early episodes moving so fast. The manga was still running when Brotherhood ended though?? And here I was expecting to see the manga’s ending in this adaptation!

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  7. MIB says:

    A slight correction is required on my part – the last episode of the “FMA: Brotherhood” anime aired on July 4th 2010 in Japan while the last chapter of the manga was published in June 2010.

    I don’t know how far in advanced the anime production was but if “Shirobako” taught us anything it could be around four weeks but from what I have read, the endings are fairly close in content to one another.

    Sorry for the confusion.

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    • No problem. I imagine Hiromu Arakawa communicated what she wanted to do with the ending to the anime studio, but there must be nuanced differences between the two.

      I really want to watch Shirobako one day. It’s popularity indicates that it’s better than many of those anime showing how anime or manga are made.

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  8. Glad you commented on Jamie’s Anime Zone – it allowed me to find you!

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