Summer 2020 is here amidst the global pandemic, but don’t fret as you won’t be bored with the anime titles this summer! Here’s a compilation of our writers’ first impressions for this season’s AniBitez. Check them out and see what you’d like to add to your watchlist!
Deca-Dence: Slicin’ n dicin’ with pipes
As a die-hard sci-fi fan, the anime I’m most excited to watch this season is hands down Deca-Dence. It’s an original anime set in a world where humans on the verge of extinction have to fight for their survival while inhabiting a mobile fortress named Deca-dence, due to the alien, human-devouring animals called Gadolls. With dieselpunk and steampunk elements, the show focuses on Natsume, an ardent Tanker who wishes to become a Gear warrior alongside the pragmatic Kaburagi, an armor repairman Tanker.
Deca-Dence has many things going for it, namely its storytelling, world-building, and characters. The visuals and colors are captivating with each action scene, along with some surprisingly adorable Gadolls. At first glance, the show might look like your typical kaiju anime set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where humans have to beat up giant alien monsters. However, by episode two, Deca-Dence will make you question your expectations and perception of the world, and the show altogether. In addition to the intricate narrative, the characters are very likable. Although Natsume and Kaburagi are polar opposites, the way they interact with each other, the Gears, Tankers, Gadolls, and the Deca-dence fortress only makes me hope that Deca-Dence will be a rollercoaster worth riding till the end.
Gibiate: Reverse-isekai’d samurais in an apocalypse
At Anime Expo 2019, Yoshitaka Amano, best known as Final Fantasy’s character designer, announced his newest work, featuring an apocalyptic Japan and humans who are mutated into monsters from a mysterious virus. Combating these “Gibias” without military aid is ill-advised, but the arrival of time-slipping samurais and the need to complete a vaccine will completely change the game. It’s a very… interesting concept to say the least, and I dove into it with little to no expectations at all.
My overall impression of the anime is “okay” at best. Yes, the series sports an A-list voice cast and some notable staff, but the execution is sorely lacking. There isn’t enough world-building to really make sense of things, and a startling lack of reaction from the characters towards their situation undercuts any possible drama. However, my biggest peeve so far is the dialogue. Anything that comes out of anyone’s mouth seems incredibly vapid, and the characters do not seem to fully process new information. There’s this air of constant confusion or stagnation, as if each character’s remaining brain cell short-circuited mid-way into the discussion about samurais or Gibias. I’m not sure if this is due to poor writing or inability to work at full capacity due to COVID-19, but Gibiate is rapidly falling off the radar for me at this rate. I can only hope that episode two literally picks up the pace.
By: @Agnes “Iniquiate”
Japan Sinks 2020: Activate survival HARD mode
After achieving great success with Devilman Crybaby and Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, Science Saru’s latest effort, a modernized adaptation of the popular Japan Sinks novel, looks to be another hit. In the summer of 2020, a massive earthquake hits Japan and Southeast Asia, the first of several that will lead to the sinking of the Land of the Rising Sun. All major cities are dismantled, there is limited access to the internet for answers, and the Japanese government can only sit on their hands and cry for help. Among the survivors are the Mutoh family and their friends who are desperately maintaining their sanity in this broken new world.
There are very few series that illustrate Japan’s natural disasters, if not the terrifying reality of its aftermath. Science Saru wastes no time depicting people being crushed to death, speared by metal and wood, and pelted in the back of their heads due to the unpredictability of the earthquake. Meanwhile, areas of Tokyo and its surrounding countryside are shown in complete shambles with broken asphalt, upheaved roads, and flooded streets. Surrounded by such a horrific and surreal environment, the characters barely keep it together, which makes the series remarkably more realistic. Our high-school protagonist, Ayumu Mutoh, illustrates that perfectly with her whiny and childish mentality that serves as her means to cope with the situation. She’s in denial, but denial will only get her so far in this quest for survival.
Fans do not have to be familiar with Science Saru’s other works to understand the level of gore and seriousness in Japan Sinks 2020, but be warned: this show is not for the faint of heart.
By: @Agnes “Iniquiate”
Mr Love: Queen’s Choice: Hoping this isn’t just another otome anime
My expectations for otome anime have never been high, but the first episode of this anime has given me some hope that the protagonist won’t be too useless. Our dear protagonist is your typical wide-eyed, slim, and fair-skinned beauty that works as a producer for her late father’s show (sound familiar?). She is trying to manage her father’s production studio when she stumbles upon rumors of “Evolvers” — hyper-advanced humans with evolved genetics and superpowers, the very thing her late father had been investigating.
Frankly, the premise of supernatural humans is interesting enough to be an anime on its own, but it is the backdrop of the original otome game so there’s nothing much we can do about the upcoming — and expected — romance. I’m not exactly impressed with the main protagonist since she feels like a very typical otome game heroine, but her challenge to a business empire’s CEO makes her a bit more interesting. To make it big in five years is a massive challenge because of the lack of funding and fresh ideas she has. I’m interested enough to watch the next two episodes just to see how the heroine tries to turn her business around while living up to her words. To sum it up, I’ll quote one of the male protagonists’ words:
“I’d absolutely love to see you try.”
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Season 3: Well-worth the wait.
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU’s third season kicks off with the last few seconds of Season 2’s final episode. Even so, it takes a bit of time before Yukino’s request is finally revealed. When it does, it doesn’t feel as big of a moment as the five-year cliffhanger might’ve led viewers to expect, but it’s a development that makes sense in terms of Yukino’s growth.
One of the reasons I loved the second season of SNAFU was its complicated relationships and depth, but I also found some of its conversations, as fascinating as they were, to be a bit opaque. In this premiere, Yukino’s expression of what she wants is pretty transparent, with helpful flashbacks to boot. Visually, the show clearly conveys the care that Hachiman and Yui both feel towards Yukino, particularly with Yui’s physical actions. Of course, Yui has always been openly affectionate, but it’s still pleasing to see how she and Hachiman are there for Yukinoshita, and how much the bond between the three have strengthened since we first met them.
The best parts of the premiere, however, are actually the ones without Yukinoshita or Yuigahama. Another reason I loved SNAFU Season 2 was its entertaining character interactions, and Season 3’s premiere doesn’t disappoint with Hachiman’s conversations with Kawasaki and Komachi respectively in the second half. Hachiman and Komachi’s sibling relationship is as endearing as ever, and it provides the end of the episode with an incredibly heartwarming moment. SNAFU is finally back, and it looks like it was well worth the wait.
Re: ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- Season 2: A stunning return to another world
Thanks to its in media res opening, Re: Zero Season 2’s premiere feels like a smooth and natural continuation to the first season, like continuing a book after stopping in the middle. Those with dusty memories of the first season may be a bit lost here, but in my case, it felt exciting to jump straight into things, although we don’t start off with a fight. Re: Zero Season 2 begins with a familiar scene for those who watched the first season’s Director’s Cut: Subaru’s conversation with Emilia in a wagon, following the battle with Petelgeuse. It starts off light-heartedly but ends with the revelation that Emilia has forgotten Rem, everyone’s favorite Oni-maid. Then comes the storm: a flashback showing Rem and Crusch’s caravan encountering two dangerous new foes — the Sin Archbishop of Greed and the Sin Archbishop of Gluttony.
Naturally, things don’t go well; aside from scores of soldiers being killed, Crusch loses her memories and an arm, while Rem has both her memories and name eaten by the Gluttony Archbishop, leaving her in a comatose state and erasing other characters’ (sans Subaru) memories of her. We all know that Subaru’s suffering is never-ending, but this is the first time that a previous victory has been offset by a disastrous event, and it’s one that Subaru can’t avert with his Return by Death ability. It’s a heck of a way to start the new season. While the second half of the episode revolves around conversation rather than action, the gravity of the situation that Subaru and the others now find themselves in makes it no less engrossing, although the storyboarding and soundtrack deserve some credit too. I’m incredibly excited to see what happens next.
Rent-a-Girlfriend: Better than your average rom-com, except when it isn’t
Rent-a-Girlfriend follows Kazuya Kinoshita, a college student whose life becomes entwined with a rental girlfriend he hired after an unceremonious breakup with his ex. I used to be a fairly avid reader of the manga it’s based on, but I ended up dropping it because of my vigorous dislike of the protagonist. Even so, I thought I’d give this adaptation a chance.
Let’s start with the positives. I love most of the show. Rental girlfriend Chizuru Mizuhara’s clashing “work” and “casual” personalities provide all the endearing gap moe of the classic anime tsundere, but without needing to rely on the same tired tropes. As expected, this comedy anime nails its humor, and the clean animation enhances the experience while still retaining the fun art style that originally got me interested in the manga. The catchy opening song by The Peggies — who almost always make an anime hit — and its playful selfie animation also illustrate the anime’s pleasing visuals and youthful energy.
On the flip side, I hate Kazuya even more than I did in the manga. Now that he has a voice, Kazuya’s spineless, selfish, and sophomoric personality becomes even more irritating. He also inherits his manga version’s irritating lack of development. At the end of Episode One, we see a slight indication that Kazuya might start down the path to self-improvement, but Episode Two fails to follow through — he ends up in the same place that he started. I still intend to watch the series, but I fear that my disdain for Kazuya might sour the entire viewing experience.
Sword Art Online: War of Underworld Part 2: Er, what’s with the tentacles?
Let’s start with the good stuff. Like the previous Alicization seasons, Sword Art Online: War of Underworld Part 2 looks good, and the action is still well-animated. We get to rewatch Sinon’s awesome arrival, and Ronye, upon meeting Sinon, amusingly mutters that all of Kirito’s real-world friends seem to be girls. Bercouli begins to square off against Vecta, and Klein makes a cool entrance. I wasn’t hyped the way I was when I watched Re: Zero Season 2’s premiere, but these still made for a good watch. So, what’s holding my praise back?
Well, here’s where the bad stuff comes in. Unlike Sinon and Klein’s badass entries, Leafa falls inelegantly into the Underworld and, shortly after, proceeds to get assaulted by magical tentacles conjured by the Dark Arts user D.I.L. It’s not that D.I.L.’s attack serves no purpose — the wounded spellcaster plainly wants to absorb Leafa’s health. D.I.L.’s attitude also results in the last surviving Orc chieftain, Lilpilin, standing up against her, potentially opening the door to an alliance between him and Leafa. The problem is how the scene feels like something you’d see in an SAO doujin, except that this isn’t the first questionable scene in the SAO series. It also doesn’t help that the scene where Leafa gives D.I.L. her comeuppance feels like a mere footnote compared to the tentacle stuff.
The second episode is, thankfully, free of such material, making it easy to wholly enjoy the epic clash between Bercouli and Vecta. Still, this wasn’t a great way to kick off the final part of the Alicization arc.
The God of High School: Time to whack people’s asses!
The first impression I got was, “Wow, is this politics?” and “The art for the males’ bodies look so weird.” The anime starts off with (probably) corrupt politicians trying to flex their power and the masseuses had their eyes drawn weirdly, but that really isn’t the story. The “God of High School” martial arts tournament involves selected high school students from all over South Korea, where, if they dominate the main battles, they will have their wish granted no matter what. Our protagonist, Jin Mo-ri, is almost late for the preliminary tournament, but even then he tries to help an old grandmother get her purse back from a thief. It is through this crazy thief chasing that he meets two of his future comrades: Han Dae-wi and Yoo Mi-ra. Frankly, the first ten minutes of episode one had me wondering how sturdy Mo-ri’s bicycle must be to make all those crazy Hollywood action-like turns!
After watching two episodes, though, I’m left with many questions. For example, what’s Park Mujin’s purpose for organizing such a tournament? He definitely seems shady and I’m already wary of him. Also, what is up with the Hunger Games-style tournaments? This also doesn’t feel right. There’s so much I don’t know, but one thing is for sure: I’m rooting for the three newly-bonded friends because they’re super awesome when they’re together!
The Misfit of Demon King Academy: The devil is an old-timer?
Rejoice, for the mighty Demon King has been reborn! The only problem is, no one seems to recognize him for who he is. 2,000 years have passed since Anos Voldigoad, Demon King, last walked the land. His followers and their descendants have built a society intended to honor his legacy, including the titular academy for training the next demon king. After reincarnation, though, the original demon king himself is labeled as a misfit at the academy meant to mold people in his image in the first place.
Anos is billed as an overpowered protagonist, and the anime doesn’t disappoint! I also expected this anime to be funny, and funny it is. With its quirky protagonist, intricate world, and intriguing early plot, Misfit proves to be a hilarious and genre-subverting ride. I also didn’t expect Anos to be so charming and endearing, and it’s a welcome surprise. You’d expect a demon king to be a cold and cruel tyrant who only cares about power. While Anos does regard raw ability over a superficial status like lineage, he’s still incredibly kind and caring toward his new birth parents and his fellow student, Misha. If a power trip that is as relaxing as it is exciting sounds like your cup of tea, then I recommend giving this overpowered demon lord misfit a shot.