School’s out, scream and shout! It’s time for another round of spicy summer anime, featuring the riveting close-combat quarters action scenes of Lycoris Recoil and the chill city-pop vibes from Call of the Night. Join writers Jon, Melvyn, and Nico as they explore all the facets of the Summer 2022 anime.
Black Summoner: A typical Isekai done right
With more than four isekai anime airing this season, Black Summoner stands out through its dialogue between Kelvin and Melfina and its practical, but expressive animation. The back-to-back banter throughout the first episode establishes a fun relationship between Kelvin, a man who forfeits his old life’s memories in pursuit of more power, and Melfina, a goddess who Kelvin fell in love with prior to his memory loss. The teasing and character introduction done through the banter feels well-paced and natural almost immediately — a better approach compared to the typical info-dumping the premise and lore of most isekai series.
So far, the show has done a great job of visually showing how curious Kelvin is about this new world he has been reincarnated in, but what surprises me the most is the combat. While the fight with the slime is short overall, the fight choreography is very effective in showing Kelvin’s struggle restraining himself in order to tame the slime. The fight with Gerand the Knight uses CG that shows a lot of back-and-forth perspective between each combatants, similar to how a turn-based RPG would play out in an open space. There seems to be a lot of care put into the animation, and I hope future episodes reflect that.
Even though there has only been one episode, I’m looking forward to how Black Summoner progresses as the stakes and capabilities of the main cast grow.
Call of the Night: Dancing in the moonlight (with a vampire)
Call of the Night is a rare show that captures the impossible feeling of time standing still, and the dynamic between the leads emphasizes this enchanting mood in the opening episode. Frustrated and unfulfilled with his life, Kou Koyami encounters the mysterious vampire Nazuna Nanakusa and takes on her offer to show him how to live in the spirit of the night — for the small price of his delicious blood.
Between its beautiful backdrops, character designs, and sound design, this show drips with pleasant aesthetics. What really stands out is the emptiness in the establishing shots: the setting illuminated in a celestial lighting ties back to the power that darkness can invoke over a familiar scene. Director Tomoyuki Itamura previously worked on the Monogatari series, which shares a similar tone and the remarkable ability to make a conversation between two people so captivating to watch in an empty setting.
The ending theme by Creepy Nutz, which the manga was named after, perfectly captures the anime’s mood. The first episode’s emotional peaks using this song, along with the beautiful lighting and cityscape, parallel the way that Kou and Nazuna show each other different perspectives of living. Their dynamic pulls each other out of their comfort zones, and when combined with their sharp expressive character designs, their flustered moments create a turbulent feeling to just “go with the flow” and lose yourself in the embrace of the call of the night.
Engage Kiss: A broke dude, his demon lover (?), and his ex
I’m usually not interested in love triangles, but Engage Kiss might be one of the rare exceptions. Written and series composed by Saekano author Fumiaki Maruto, this original anime features a love triangle consisting of Shu, a broke founder of a private military company; Kisara, his slightly possessive demon companion who replenishes power by French-kissing him; and Ayano, his jealous ex-girlfriend from the PMC he used to work at. The combination results in some enjoyable spice, but there’s also a bit of tragedy involved, as episode 3 reveals.
But wait, what’s this about PMCs and demons? Basically, various PMCs secretly safeguard the show’s setting of Bayron City from demons. Instead of working together, however, the PMCs bid for each job by proposing lower rates than their competitors.
Despite the flexing of animation muscle from the action side of Engage Kiss (especially in the premiere), the protecting-the-city-from-demons element is the least interesting part of the show. Instead, the entertaining interplay between the main cast and the comedy derived from the protagonist’s financial situation make a bigger impact. This applies to the fight scenes too, where the most memorable moments so far involve the two love interests trying to kill each other and a situation where Shu and Kisara talk about their finances while an enemy tries to sway them to his side.
It’s a bit of a shame that these chaotic rom-com elements had to be shackled to a less appealing action show, but Engage Kiss has currently proven to be more enjoyable than I expected.
Lycoris Recoil: Cute girls with guns and fun
In Lycoris Recoil’s Japan, the DA organization raises young orphans into teenage agents called Lycoris, who secretly but ruthlessly maintain a peace that is officially credited to exemplary citizen behavior. Bubbly protagonist Chisato Nishikigi is one such Lycoris, but she works at a DA-affiliated cafe and devotes herself to helping others instead. Chisato is contrasted to good effect by her new partner Takina Inoue, a more serious and straightforward Lycoris who wishes to get reinstated at the DA.
Lycoris Recoil seems to have gotten a pretty warm reception with its first three episodes, and it’s not hard to see why. It offers eye-catching character designs, memorable action sequences, and good chemistry between Chisato and Takina. Its light-hearted moments and over-the-top but hard-hitting action elements are both entertaining and don’t undermine each other.
Chisato herself is a blessing. She’s cute and funny, impressive in combat, and smarter than her usual easy-going mannerisms suggest. The cherry on top is her warmth, with the wonderful hug scene with Takina in episode 3 cementing Chisato as my favorite protagonist of the season.
At this point, it’s too early to determine if the still-unclear main threat is another strength or a weak link. While I like how each episode, especially the third, spares effective moments to touch on the Lycoris’ circumstances, Lycoris Recoil currently doesn’t feel like it’ll end up being a thought-provoking experience. Nevertheless, it looks set to be an anime I’ll remember fondly for quite a while.
My Isekai Life: Another isekai people will forget about
The premise includes your standard protagonist, Yuji, who has been sent to another world after living a short, sad corporate life. After a combination of flash-forwards and flashbacks, the main character seems to remain emotionally indifferent no matter the situation, such as being reincarnated or being attacked by bandits. Yuji doesn’t seem to care or have any real attachment to this new world he is in. There is just nothing interesting about the main character.
It feels like the show is already struggling. The animation feels rough due to all the diagonal screen panning and awkward downward angle cuts that continues to show Yuji’s lack of any emotional and physical expressiveness. However, the flashback sequence that shows Yuji’s previous circumstances is done well, thanks to its distinct style compared to the rest of the show. The show seems to be always conserving itself for the next big reveal, but this method seems to be more draining for viewers like myself, rather than building anticipation and excitement.
Given how many isekai I can choose from, if all I can say about the show is that the ending theme song and the slimes are fun, then just watching a shorter iteration with those two elements is a better use of my time.
RWBY Ice Queendom: Probably not the RWBY anime of your dreams
I didn’t know a lot about RWBY prior to Ice Queendom. Even so, I was fairly excited for this SHAFT-produced adaptation after seeing Magia Record Season 2’s Hiroto Nagata and Kazuki Kawata listed as main animators, despite Magia Record’s messy production (covered in the second-last paragraph of this excellent Sakuga Blog article) providing warning signs about the potential state of this new show.
So, how does Ice Queendom fare so far? Looking at the action highlights that were circulating on social media, one might get the impression that it’s a gem. Sadly, it’s not. Ice Queendom suffers from character drawings with fluctuating quality, shots where characters clash with the backgrounds, and backdrops — especially those in episode 2 — that seem to lack a consistent visual direction and are seldom pleasant to look at. The action can be impressive, but the overall picture is not a pretty or polished sight.
The story is a bit better in comparison — I especially like the friction between protagonist Ruby (who sounds a bit odd voiced by Saori Hayami) and the proud but flawed Weiss — and not awfully hard to follow. But the fast pacing, most notable in the first episode’s impatient introduction of the main characters, makes it hard to latch onto the setting. I still have barely any interest in the monster-slaying academy the characters are bound for and little investment in the strife between humans and the beastmen-like Faunus.
I might stick around for the moments of good action animation, but I can’t say that I’m looking forward to future episodes.
Shine Post: Will these idols shine?
Shine Post is the story of a struggling idol unit and their new manager, a talented individual who is initially reluctant to work with them due to his sour past. For the most part, the setup results in a fun first episode that’s slightly dragged down by a dull, dramatic flashback, but a twist near the end makes things much more interesting.
For some reason, the manager is able to see a shiny aura from people who are lying. Through this, we learn that two of the main characters aren’t as honest as they seem when it comes to their idol aspirations and enthusiasm. I was already on board with the show and its lively cast before this, but now, I can’t help but be excited for the potential story developments and character arcs.
While I’m not including anyone here in my favorite anime idols list yet, the first two episodes have done enough to make me want to follow these underdogs on their journey. The animation has also been a bright spot, especially the character movements in the premiere’s impressive opening performance and the second episode’s finale. There are some visual elements that bug me, like the main characters’ designs having a few too many tufts of hair and the weird manner in which their sports bras shine through their shirts, but they’re not enough of an issue to put me off the show.
Teppen!!!: Silly girls in silly situations
Set in Osaka’s Namba district, Teppen!!! (full title: TEPPEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!: Laughing ’til You Cry) is a comedy anime about several aspiring manzai acts. These teenage girls also happen to be mightily eccentric, much to the exasperation of their body-building dorm manager. One trio is shown attempting to summon aliens with their dorm room’s door, while another is revealed to have transformed their dorm room into the entrance to a fancy castle. Then there’s the main Young Wai Wai trio, whose efforts to repair a broken trophy lead to the creation of a truly bizarre object, as well as a flashback that’s smartly interspersed and embellished to explain the premise without disrupting the premiere’s flow.
Teppen!!!’s premiere wasn’t a laugh-out-loud experience for me (to be fair, most comedy anime, even the ones I love, aren’t either), but the silly lines and situations — like a conversation about natto that was more unpredictable than I expected — kept me entertained from start to finish. The third episode didn’t land as well for me until the last few minutes, and the absence of the seemingly Young Wai Wai-centric second episode* hurts the flow of the series a bit. However, it’s still great to have another fun comedy show with a silly female cast.
*Episode 2’s airing was canceled following the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. While a specific reason was not given, the screencap taken by a Twitter user revealed that the episode involved the main trio attempting to foil an apparent presidential assassination plan.
The Devil is a Part-Timer! Season 2: A highly anticipated return!
It may have been nine years since we last saw him, but Satan, the lord of darkness, is still flipping patties at MgRonald’s with Chiho, living with Ashiya and Urushihara, and struggling to make ends meet! Sure, they’re living in squalor, but at least Emi’s not trying to kill him this time around.
Thanks to staff changes, this season sports new character designs, a welcome change that brings the cast more aligned with the original light novel designs. Despite the mostly new staff, with series composer Masahiro Yokotani notably remaining, the second season’s first episode showcases the same charm that made its first season a classic comedy. The original character dynamics are shaken up with another arrival from Ente Isla: a mysterious child who claims to be the daughter of Satan and Emi. This revelation devastates everyone involved, and Emi’s soul departs the realm upon hearing the news.
This first episode is comforting and a classic return to form. It’s chock full of nostalgia bait and callbacks to jokes from the first season. It almost feels like a reassurance to the audience not to worry about anything before concluding at the last minute with the new plotline actually barreling ahead. Nostalgia aside, the jokes overall landed with me, which is all I can ask for.
Yurei Deco: A world of style without substance?
Yurei Deco takes place on the isolated island nation of Tom Sawyer, an augmented-reality Eden which outfits all of its citizens with mandatory Decoration Customizers, or “Deco.” These Deco use AR to integrate each person into a digital hyperspace and hide the insidious aspects of Tom Sawyer’s society, such as the quantification of “love” currency.
While the overall story beats take inspiration from various Mark Twain stories, it remains to be seen if Yurei Deco ironically prioritizes style over substance like the Deco system itself. It’s refreshing to see an anime portray an integrated internet utopia and illustrate the downsides of actually living in one. The digital glow of clothes, signage, and objects pop out on the screen to hide the subtle decay of buildings overlaid with ads. If you strip away the glowing portions of some of these shots, you would end up with empty brutalist architecture, revealing the true nature of the world for Hack and the other Yurei.
I set the bar pretty high for Science Saru, but the initial act starts slow. I’m currently under the impression that the show is hiding its main draw from the audience, but it would be really rare for a show to hide its main appeal past the three episode test. Yurei Deco offers enough plot to keep me interested, but I’m worried that there are signs of a shallow show wrapped in the glow of the quirky visuals.