AniBitez: Summer 2019 Anime

From living in a stone world with Dr. Stone to the universe with Astra Lost in Space, there are some enthralling tales with unique settings this summer season while Given and If It’s For My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord are some of the more grounded highlights. Check out the Summer 2019 edition of AniBitez!


A Certain Scientific Accelerator: A certain badass returns (with his loli)

This Accelerator-focused spin-off takes us back to an earlier point in A Certain Magical Index’s timeline. The Level 5 vector-manipulating esper is still in hospital after being shot in the head but is finally having his head bandages removed. Knowing this, the ever-loveable Last Order prepares a surprise party for him with the help of the other Misaka clones. Meanwhile, a group of thieves has secured an experimental weapon, and they’ve set their sights on Accelerator. All of this simply serves a self-contained introduction though; the epilogue introduces a mysterious necromancer, meaning that the main story will have science and magic meet once again…

Although there’s a quick recap of the events that led to Accelerator’s current status, A Certain Scientific Accelerator might still be a bit confusing for those unfamiliar with the main series’ first season. As someone who has watched Index’s anime adaptation, this is a nice return to Academy City, despite the premiere acting as a filler. Accelerator isn’t my favorite character in the series, but his tsundere and anti-hero status make him a pretty memorable and compelling part of the cast, so it’s good to see him in the main role this time. The production values are alright but the Sisters’ faces look a bit odd. I’d have preferred character designs that looked more like their main series or Railgun versions in general. That’s just a minor quibble though, and I ultimately enjoyed this premiere. 

By: @STARfisher


Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou: The isekai show I’ll be hating this season

Jeez, talk about mediocre. Arifureta is honestly exactly what it seems to be: a waifu-bait isekai without any substance. I was hoping that this had potential because of the gimmick that an entire classroom gets isekai’d, but this is hardly even mentioned in the first episode. Nothing is unique about this show: zero, zilch, zip, nada, nothing. If I were to write a first impression, it’d probably end up as a list of the things they did wrong, but here I go. 

Right off the bat, we get a Kirito protagonist who is somehow worse than Kirito. He starts monologuing about how shitty his situation is and sees two monsters fighting with flash animation boomerangs. MC gets cornered in a hole and complains some more. He whines about how useless his ability is (see: Shield Hero), suddenly turns edgy (see: all of Tokyo Ghoul in 5 minutes), and eats some wolves. MCs hair turns white, “Unravel” starts playing in the distance, and he gets the powers that the wolves had (see: That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime). 

Somewhere else in Isekailandia, Asuna – I mean sidekick priest waifu – starts worrying if her totally-not-a-crush husbando is okay. Coming back to our MC, he makes a CGI railgun revolver out of rocks and starts killing everything. We cut to another waifu stuck in a crystal (see: any JRPG ever) before fading out to black. That’s it. That’s the episode. I don’t even remember the MCs name, but that’s okay because I already dropped the show.

By: @jukchuk


Astra Lost in Space: Laughter in the darkness of space

Space: the final frontier. This is the voyage of the starship Astra. Its mission: to get its student crew back to Earth after a planetary camp gone wrong. That’s the basic premise of Astra Lost in Space, a sci-fi survival anime that turned out to have more humor than I expected. Female protagonist Aries Spring, who I assumed would be a cheery but responsible onee-chan-like character, is actually a ditzy airhead, while male protagonist Kanata Hoshijima alternates between being a comedian and a competent leader. I actually enjoyed the jokes a lot, but they made me wish that Astra was a full-on comedy.

For now, there’s no severe tonal whiplash between the anime’s funny moments and the more serious ones, and the fact that the camp is situated on a planet called McPa already indicates that the show isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. Even then, the challenges the crew faces do make for a solid hook, even if the double-length first episode’s rescue sequence has a moment that relies on friendship power instead of logic. (Speaking of logic, it’s weird that the students would be left alone on another planet without adult supervision.) The crew members – including two who resemble Monogatari’s Shinobu Oshino and Kaguya-sama’s Yu Ishigami respectively – mainly feel like archetypes for now, but they’re not unlikable. The presentation and animation are also good, aside from a bit of average CGI and nice-but-unnecessary letter-boxing. Overall, Astra Lost in Space is off to a good start.

By: @STARfisher


BEM: Ya like jazz?

I’ve always been a sucker for anime that depict the western world. Japanese culture differentiates greatly from Western culture, and seeing their perspective form into an animated narrative can be quite a ride. These interpretations can sometimes be overexaggerated and borderline racist, but can also be a well-thought-out critique against the many faults that the West has. BEM is the latest entry with this setting, and I can already tell that the Western aspect has been carefully considered by the production. From hip-hop dancers in the streets to the cops working with gangs, BEM introduces a decent picture of the West a few decades ago.

While the setting may be great, an anime needs good characters or plot progression to move forward. BEM seems to fill this need by circling around the conflict and mystery of heroes, anti-heroes, villains, and the supernatural. Due to being a mystery, not much has been revealed about the supernatural forces at play. The police, who serve the “heroes” in this story, are decently developed, albeit a tad generic. The anti-heroes and villains gave me a Ben 10 vibe especially in the opening, and it’s nice to see important characters being full-on monsters, a job usually relegated to unimportant enemies. To be frank, the nature of this show makes it hard to pin a first impression on, and it’s too soon to say how these characters will develop. However, the setting and vibe of the show definitely caught my attention, so I’ll be coming back to see how this story of supernatural crime develops.

By: @jukchuk


Cop Craft: Cop Drama + Witchcraft = Cop Craft

In a world where gangs, aliens, and monsters are the norm, Cop Craft starts off with the generic-looking detective named Kei Matoba who loses his partner of four years in the line of duty. Driven by revenge and anger, Kei decides to embark on a journey to defeat the aliens who took his partner’s life. However, his new replacement partner named Tilarna Exedilica is a knight from the otherworld who also seeks to solve things in her own righteous and knightly way. This seemingly mismatched pair is forced to work and learn together to solve the crimes that plague the city of San-Theresa.

Cop Craft’s premiere episode is well-paced and engaging because of the show’s different elements that combine the familiar with the unfamiliar. While Kei specializes in solving detective crimes the old-fashioned way, Tilarna is skilled in sword fighting and sensing spiritual power. In addition to the clash in the main characters’ styles, the viewer has to pick up on the bits and pieces of information through the characters’ dialogue and actions to learn more about the connected world that Kei and Tilarna live in. Overall, the anime has that gang-like, gory dark atmosphere with the combination of fantastical elements and although there are some confusing parts where the show rushes or jumps from one scene to another, the story and interaction between characters are what keep it spellbinding. 

By: @Isaleebelle


Dr. Stone: Starting Life in the Same World From Zero

Welcome to the future!! It’s way worse than you thought it would be. Mankind has been mysteriously petrified for 3,700 years, and now that all of humanity’s architectural and societal achievements have been ground away by the relentless crawl of time, it’s time for two high school students to revive the human race, bring about a second set of agricultural and industrial revolutions, and subjugate the earth once again! The concept of using modern knowledge to propel people rapidly towards “modern civilization” is a trope all too common in isekai light novels and manga, but Dr. Stone keeps the genre fresh by ignoring all the fantasy crap and focusing on the science and engineering. By keeping the setting in the “real world”, we can ignore a lot of the world-building that wastes so much time in most shows. In fact, the first signs of meaningful conflict emerge by the end of the second episode, which really grabbed my interest.  

Aside from the bold premise and story so far, the animation and sound design are very satisfying, particularly the voice acting and soundtrack. Dr. Stone’s soundtrack is not only enjoyable to listen to, but it refuses to be just background music. While much more noticeable, it does not distract from the action and dialogue on screen. Dr. Stone is a show that commands attention with a cool premise, quality animation, story, and music.  

By: @diyo


Fire Force: Animation tour de force

While I like good animation, especially when it comes to fight scenes, I struggled to understand the enthusiasm of the sakuga fandom regarding anime animation and animators. That is, until Fire Force came along. There is an early scene where protagonist Shinra Kusakabe uses his pyrokinetic power to propel himself forward, and, while it could have been done in a simpler manner, we instead get a sequence that is quietly breathtaking to behold. One Punch Man fans will likely wish its second season was animated half as well as this. Aside from the fluidity of the animation and the sense of force from the characters’ pyrokinetic powers, there are some interesting layouts and striking use of color that only add to the visual quality of the show.

Fire Force‘s visual strengths leave a strong impression, but the story and characters are entertaining as well. Fire Force is set in an era where people randomly burst into flames and become devils of sorts, requiring firefighters with knight and nun-like motifs to put them to rest. It’s a pretty cool idea, and there’s a good balance between fiery action and fun comedic moments. Only Shinra has been fleshed out with flashbacks so far, but there are sufficient glimpses of the other characters’ personalities, and the interactions are nice enough. So far, this is good shounen fare.

By: @STARfisher


Given: Inspiration from a broken string

I didn’t expect much from Given since it’s a boys’ love series based on the manga, but I was blown away by the first episode because it was more enjoyable than I had imagined. Given first starts off with a dazed, almost lifeless Mafuyu Sato hugging a guitar on a train to school, and we later realize that the guy actually doesn’t know how to play the instrument at all. He meets Ritsuka Uenoyama, who is a loud, straightforward, self-taught guitarist, and Mafuyu asks Ritsuka to teach him how to play guitar. In a slump himself, Ritsuka refuses to be an instructor, mostly because he’s not confident in himself and neither is he particularly enthusiastic about the guitar as much as he was before. While Ritsuka trudges on with his day-to-day school life, he can’t help but notice Mafuyu’s determination and knack for learning, which starts the development of their relationship as a result.

Although Given is about Mafuyu and Ritsuka’s relationship through guitars and music, I couldn’t help but notice the short, unique guitar riffs and quirky beats that give color to the slower parts of the show. Every scene in Given also feels melancholic, especially since there’s a lot of yellow hues and warm colors — it mirrors the character’s feelings in the show towards their instrument and the music. I particularly enjoy the show’s focus on the band along with its realistic depictions of the instruments and equipment, though the romance in this show seems to be pretty shallow. So while this type of slice-of-life show might not be everyone’s cup of tea, isn’t the guitar one of the coolest instruments out there? With Given’s strong start, I’m looking forward to the musical compositions and band jams alongside all the drama.

By: @Isaleebelle


Granbelm: High school girl gets in a magical girl chibi mecha, and it’s AWESOME

Did someone order a Madoka Magica Fate battle royale in chibi mechas? No? Uh… because I didn’t know I needed this in my life until I got it.

Granbelm isn’t a groundbreaking show to be clear. It’s a mash of popular genres including magical girls, battle royale, and mechas, but it’s done with a polish that I would never have expected from a show that is completely under the radar. Re:Zero also had this polish that I had always attributed to White Fox. However, none of their shows before or after had this same style, and I’m starting to think that the director, Masahura Watanabe, is actually the one to give credit for. All of the mechas are hand-drawn (can I get an amen?) and the fights have this continuous “hype” energy that maintained its intensity and tempo throughout. The main character has selfish motivations, which is a breath of fresh air from the usual magical girl motivation of “saving everyone”. The show doesn’t try to push the dark atmosphere too far either, which I think is a common downfall for most recent magical girl anime. The dialogue is well-written and witty for the most part, and the self-aware jab at the isekai genre gave me a good chuckle. My fingers would probably fall off if I counted the number of times “nani” was said, but hopefully, this happens only at the beginning (and to be honest, who wouldn’t say nani when you’re a Japanese high school girl who was put into a magical girl mecha battle royale?). 

My only worry so far is the plot, as all of these genres have been done to death. But even if the show doesn’t do well narratively, it’s definitely worth watching for the polish and character designs alone.

By: @jukchuk


If It’s For My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord: She’s my Daughter, Officer

Taking the fantasy world of Is It Wrong To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon (and pretty much every isekai ever made) and the light-hearted tone of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, If It’s For My Daughter is shaping up to be one of the more wholesome shows this season. Animated by a new studio, Maho Film, it follows Dale Reki, a seasoned adventurer who happens upon a lost girl, Latina, in the woods, brings her home, and decides to raise her as his own daughter. Latina is adorable, and the show knows it. The first episode is clearly trying to milk the cuteness of this little girl for all she’s worth, with a plethora of moments with one message: this girl is CUTE and must be protected. 

While many fantasy animes have their darker moments, this show has shown little signs of anything particularly serious. Even Danmachi was darker than this. When the pub, a staple of the fantasy genre, is the scariest part of the series (and even then, Maho Film can’t resist showing off Latina), I think it’s clear that the show is meant to be fun. It’s a cutesy anime where you can just turn your brain off and fawn over the precious child that is Latina. 

By: @peternishimura


Lord El Melloi II’s Case Files {Rail Zeppelin} Grace note: The Lord of Piling Debt and Solving Mage Cases

I found myself watching Lord El Melloi II’s Case Files {Rail Zeppelin} Grace note as a Fate Grand/Order fan who was curious about the Fate franchise. The anime focuses on Waver Velvet, the former Master of Rider (Iskandar), as Lord El-Melloi II. and it takes place ten years after the Fourth Holy Grail War. The first episode’s flashbacks show how Waver came to be Lord El-Melloi II and underscores the guilt he feels from Rider’s death in Fate/Zero. It also displays his relationship with Reines El-Melloi Archibald, the “Princess” of the now heavily debt-ridden El-Melloi faction. The second episode instead focuses on the present, where Waver, now a Lord of the Clock Tower, is asked by Reines and his friend Melvin Waynes to investigate the death of the Head of the Fargo Family. He is helped by his assistant, Gray, where they solve various mysteries involving Magecraft and hidden conspiracies driving the Mages’ Association together.

Despite the decent animation, interesting storyline, and interaction between characters, the transition between the first and second episode is too jarring. The first episode has Waver’s alternate flashbacks between him speaking to a younger Reines and his journey to the ancient city of Babylon suddenly cutting to the present where he is to receive Reines and Melvin near the end of the episode. This distorts the episode’s flow and one’s sense of time even with “signposting” on the time period. The anime also requires some background knowledge on the Fate franchise; with the references to Fate/Zero in the first episode, one might want to watch at least a few episodes of Fate/Zero before starting Lord El-Melloi. It remains to be seen if the transitions for other episodes will be smoother, but otherwise, the anime is off to a decent start.

By: @TsukinoTheHag


Machikado Mazoku: Pitiful demon girls are the funniest

Yuko Yoshida thinks that she’s just a normal girl until she wakes up one day with horns and a demon tail. She then learns that she’s the descendant of the Dark Clan and that the Light Clan, who defeated them in the past, is responsible for sealing her family’s powers and cursing them with poverty. Since Yuko has somehow circumvented the seal and is displaying her clan’s original physical traits, her mother tasks her with defeating a Magical Girl and offering her drained blood to their Demon God statue. Alas, she’s so physically weak that even the Magical Girl of her town ends up taking pity on her.

Machikado Mazoku, or The Demon Girl Next Door, is a delightful and amusing show. The key to the humor is how the characters’ behavior is both nonchalant and absurd. When Yuko asks her friends why they are not bothered by her appearance, one of them simply responds that their town has many weird people. After expressing disappointment that modern society does not allow weapons to be carried in public, Yuko’s mother arms her with a fork. The show displays some quirkiness on its part as well: the Magical Girl’s transformation sequence is accompanied by a timer, and she takes precisely ten milliseconds to transform. The pacing is fast but not rushed, and Yuko’s hapless devil status is slightly reminiscent of Gabriel Dropout’s Satania. As it turns out, cute and pitiful demons are a great source of humor.

By: @STARfisher


Naka no Hito Genome [Jikkyouchuu]: Doing it for the content

Naka no Hito Genome really wanted to stand out from the crowd. A group of video game personalities of various genres is abducted to play a game of real-life puzzles to survive – that’s a premise with a lot of potential. There are a lot of themes to explore here: how streamers of different genres view another genre, the effects of forcing people who mostly communicate online into a real-life stressful situation, how video game players treat a non-virtual game where lives are at stake – and the list goes on. As someone who is interested in the world of streaming, I was genuinely interested to see an anime perspective of streamers.

Sadly, I don’t see this series reaching the potential that I had first hoped for. Even though this show has a decently large number of important characters in a classroom-like setting, it fails to accomplish one of the most important objectives when having a large cast: developing character relationships. In the first and second episodes, the characters are shown to solve several puzzles together, usually with a third party one-shot character such as a giant panda, a ghost, or… a schoolgirl panda? Most of the focus, however, ends up being on the relationship between one of the cast members and the one-shot character, making the trials a detriment instead of a catalyst for character development. The trials themselves also fail in their own ways. The show tries to wrap up each challenge emotionally, but the impact of these conclusions fall flat when the audience knows that the third party character will only exist for the current event, and the buildup is jammed into one or even half an episode. There is also a myriad of smaller issues, such as an inconsistent character design and lackluster animation in action scenes.

This show was seemingly supposed to focus on a group of characters overcoming trials, but when neither the characters nor the trials deliver, there isn’t much to take from this show. There is a chance that both of these aspects improve later on in the season, but I don’t have much hope from what I have seen so far.

By: @jukchuk


Symphogear XV: More singing/action/yuri awesomeness

I never expected Symphogear to last for long, yet here is its fifth season, arriving seven years after the original. Previously, Hibiki and the gang squared off against the Bavarian Illuminati and discovered the existence of ancient beings called the Custodians. XV continues that thread by having S.O.N.G. discover a giant weaponized Custodian coffin, as well as introducing a new trio that appears to be part of the Bavarian Illuminati remnants. 

While each Symphogear season expands on the series’ lore, introduces new villains, and have different (albeit connected) stories, there’s also a familiar formula that’s consistently present. In other words, XV once again brings back the J-Pop songs, increasingly over-the-top action, transformation sequences (XV’s first episode definitely doesn’t disappoint in this regard), loveable characters, and strong yuri undertones that define Symphogear. It’s not an invincible formula – the third season was a bit of a bore for me – but for the most part, it’s one that generates fun in spades. Basically, it’s good to have more Symphogear again.

By: @STARfisher


To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts: Don’t abandon this yet 

To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts may take place in a fictional land, but the similarities to the American Civil War are visibly apparent. There’s a Northern Union and a Southern Confederation, and the uniforms and technology are reminiscent of that era as well. The main differences are that both sides are fighting over a special resource, and the North has special soldiers called Incarnates who can transform into various beasts. The Incarnates are the North’s special weapon, but the more they fight, the more they lose their humanity and their control. It’s up to male protagonist Hank, who doesn’t seem affected by this unfortunate side effect, to eliminate his out-of-control comrades after the war.

Aside from the American Civil War similarities, To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts slightly reminds me of the recent and yet-to-be-concluded Fairy Gone. After all, there’s a past war involving special soldiers, a historical-setting-like look, a female protagonist (not introduced in the first episode) who wields a rifle, and a male protagonist with wolf-related powers. The male protagonist even has a former comrade-turned-enemy. That said, the premises are ultimately pretty different, and To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts benefits from better animation and story-telling. The first episode (which is basically a flashback) is unsubtle about its efforts to induce sympathy towards the Incarnates, but the twist of events at the end is effective despite its obviousness. It’s not sacred, but it’s a decent watch.

By: @STARfisher


 

A.k.a. STARfisher. Likes the Monogatari series, and wishes that A Silent Voice won an Oscar. Also plays video games and Warhammer 40k. Now trying to familiarize himself with sakuga and anime production while self-learning Japanese.

Content Creator at Anime Trending

Diyo likes the Fate franchise, anything directed by Masaaki Yuasa, and anime girls with shoulder-length hair. Diyo's non-anime hobbies include sleep deprivation, Magic: The Gathering, and trains. Diyo's one true goal in life is to interview everyone who has worked on From the New World.

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