Sometimes when a new season starts, each new anime is a bundle of hype and thrills, with each new show bringing unexpected delights as your watchlist inflates like a hot air balloon standing under the American president. Then other seasons it’s a constant stream of failures, where you keep checking in and you think you can’t get any more disappointments but each time you are somehow still surprised by the new levels of low, like following American politics. This summer anime season is closer to the latter than the former so far.
Katsugeki Touken Ranbu
I feel like I was doomed with Touken Ranbu from the very start because my knowledge of Japanese history isn’t up to snuff. This plays on your knowledge of specific events in Japanese history as well as the obvious part of assuming you know what each of these swords are. None of which I know anything about nor does the show seem intent on explaining it. I can’t blame it either since it’s for Japanese people who do know about the great fire of 18-something something. For me when they said they were in the 1800’s my mind went “oh yeah that’s when the Shinsengumi were around as they were outlawing samurai and then aliens landed and a white haired samurai…oh wait no that’s Gintama”. This is what happens when your entire knowledge of Japanese history is based off anime and Shogun Total War.
If I enjoyed the regular content I probably would have been encouraged to learn more about the history, but I didn’t. The main character is a whiny little twerp for whom every second word is seemingly him calling out to his partner. Oh Kane-San, help me, save me, teach me, show me how to fight with your smooth hands and firm grip and throbbing…sword. When the other sword boys turned up, it felt more like fanservice to fans of the game than a moment to get hyped over. It’s well animated, even if the shiny face nature of ufotable gets on my nerves occasionally. But other than that, nothing really got me interested.
Clean Freak Aoyama-Kun
I feel there were two ways this could have gone and it might have worked. Either it should have been full gag manga where any semblance of sports manga is thrown out the window. Or it could have gone super deathly serious and the comedy comes from how seriously they treat the subject matter of a germaphobe playing football. Instead they went for something in the middle, where they seem to treat soccer seriously but then throw in gags here and there. This means it’s too silly for me to get invested in the soccer and takes itself too seriously so the gags feel weirdly out of place when it tries chibi slapstick.
I will say though that the ending is incredible and it’s worth the anime existing entirely for that. Animated in 70’s style sports shows, reminiscent of some Captain Tsubasa or Aim for the Ace. It’s so well executed I wish the show was more like that. But asides from that ending, and the one background character whose entire thing seems to be that he only plays football with his butt, which is stupid enough for my brain to find weirdly hilarious because nobody ever comments on it, there wasn’t much here for me to recommend.
Knight’s and Magic
This feels like a 8-year-old’s first attempt at self-insert story writing. They’re too young to want to be seen as cool and edgy, but still want to be amazing and everyone be jealous of them. They’re old enough to know a story needs conflict, but all conflict gets resolved super quickly because our main character is so great. Oh and then we move 5 years into the future because I’m 8 and I ate too much sugar and then he saw the giant robot and the giant robot was awesome and he sat in the giant robot and it was the best you have no idea.
In a way there’s something almost endearing about how earnestly upbeat this is, especially when you consider the story setup is not that far from Tanya the Evil. But every instance in which conflict and hardship could be created in Knight’s and Magic, the show steers away from that. He could be looking for a new lease on life when reborn so he learns something about himself, but no he’s a perfectly happy dude who likes robots. He could have been born in squalor and had to fight his way to the top to achieve his dream of piloting a robot, but nope he’s born into royalty with teachers out there who can teach him magic straight away. He could have struggled learning but fought his way through sheer grit and determination, but nope we skip all the learning and he’s practically there from the start. I get overbearing positivity is kind of the point of the show, but by god do I find it boring without conflict of some kind.
Restaurant to Another World
My question going into this show was what would it be about. Not plot, but character arcs or themes. What would be the stories that grab our hearts and make us come back time after time. The answer to that is…ummm, food is good? They’ve based the show around this chef who comes off as such a complete non-entity I’m left confused as to what we’re supposed to care about. What was the point of the dragon lady anyway? She really likes his beef stew? And? I wanted to know more about her demon butler fellow, what’s his story? Why is he preparing dresses for a dragon queen and trying to tie them up using his massive demon hands? His story seems like the most interesting part so far.
I feel like this is a whole genre of entertainment I’m just not into. These stories where you’re just supposed to watch it and feel nice about things. I just can’t keep my attention nor stay engaged, and looking at pictures of anime food has rather lost its impact on me since it seems there’s like 5-6 anime per season with unusually good food porn. It’s almost like the obligatory panty shots of the past that all anime were required to have by law have been replaced by unusually well-drawn pictures of food. Which I suppose is an improvement. I don’t feel like I’m degrading the entire gender of food with all these pornographic images. Just when it’s the main draw I feel lost and bored.