I’m a strong believer in the value of 20 minutes of time. Between work, the anime I do watch, the fact that I do play games on occasion, and my ongoing quest to find the next To Heart*, I’ve got plenty of venues to bank my time. There’s no real reason to keep watching a show, even if I’m enjoying it a little, if it doesn’t have at least an upside of being an 8/10 product. What follows is a list of Summer 2013 shows I dropped more or less because of their lack of realistic upside.
Aside from perhaps the hair episode of Yami Shibai, the 5-minute preview for Go Nagai’s Robot Girls Z was the most impressive, repeatable five minutes of animation I watched last month. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s over here. Short version: it’s a 5-minute comedy which, but for the more modern cutesy character designs, could totally have been written by Go Nagai. Its style of humor, featuring excessive violence and heroes doing more damage than the monsters they fight, is what he’s always been all about.
Being that I was excited about the project (this was only the 0th episode), I flew over to ann to check the profiles of the freaks involved. As it turns out, the director, Hiroshi Ikehata, has only ever handled one TV series before (Ring ni Kakero), which isn’t a very good sample size to judge a director on. But he has held the position of episode director numerous times, on all manner of series (from A-Channel to Yuyushiki).
There are no less than 8 new directors making their debut in this Summer 2013 season with similar information about their early careers available.* One of them is Hiroko Utsumi, the director of Free! Others run the quality gamut, from C3-Bu’s Masayoshi Kawajiri to Neptunia’s Masahiro Mukai. And, lest I forget, Shishiou Igarashi made a smashing debut with The Unlimited this winter. It’s definitely possible for first-timers to post veteran-esque performances, but far from guaranteed.
This observation led me to a question; what, if anything, can we glean from a first-time director’s experience in the bullpen? If it that experience is important, what part of it is? Is it better to have worked as an understudy to a great creator on a memorable show, or to build up tons of experience grinding out lots of support roles? To attempt to answer these questions, I pulled up resumes for the 11 directors who first got their hands on a serial anime project in 2012 and combed them over to see if anything in particular was a good indicator of their respective performances. This article outlines a number of the potential performance I examined, some better than others.
Redline is the best anime movie I have ever seen. By which I mean it is the best anime I’ve ever seen and the best movie I’ve ever seen. While this summer season is certainly one for the books, it’s not delivering anything quite like that movie (and it wouldn’t be fair to ask it to). But because the movie’s now available free on youtube,* and because this is definitely the most fun season to be a part of since subs of the movie became available roughly 2 years ago, I decided to pay tribute by summarizing how everyone’s doing at (roughly) the halfway hash in the words of Sweet JP and co.
[Warning: Spoilers, if that kind of thing bothers you.]
Drew: This episode had a fairly simple premise; the main character goes around trying to get his hands on a sky boat, once owned by his teacher but now in the hands of Benten. I want to say that up-front, because this was probably the least-comprehensible episode of anime I watched this month. They introduced a bunch of things from nowhere, like the seaside clocktower that Benten apparently owns. The worst part was the one conversation between Tengu that dropped a bunch of terminology with minimal context, one that I would have been totally lost for if I hadn’t encountered the term Kurama Tengu before. It’s still a visual feast, but the visuals are often a lot less tightly targeted than, say, a Tatami Galaxy. I’m starting to worry (admittedly just a little) that this might be a TV anime with movie problems rather than a TV anime with movie benefits.
Drew: Uchoten Kazoku might seem to some to be a far-out series. For me, it’s attacking fairly familiar territory, just doing it using tanuki stuck in frog-shaped polymorphs instead of humans in mundane lifestyles. I think it’s less artsy fare with a message and more much closer to a character-driven slice-of-life drama that happens to involve smooth, fancy animation. And I’m loving it so far. It’s obviously still got places to go and things to develop, but I think it’s a 7/10 if the two episodes that came out so far were a stand-alone ova series, which is pretty good in my book.
Based on what I’ve seen of reactions to Free on the internet, it seems like a large quantity of people are ruling it out with one glance at the promo material rather than 20 minutes of episode time. It’s becoming increasingly obvious how much of a shame that is, because this show is complete in ways it didn’t even have to be to be an enjoyable ride.
When P.A. works gets ambitious and does cool crap like this show, it’d be a disservice to the material to just have one reviewer. We’re breaking down the not-at-all-token arsty show of the new season, Uchoten Kazoku, buddy cop style!
We at Animetics believe that ordinary anime seasonal blog previews are kind of boring. Thus, we made Spring’s preview into a wager-based game. Now, the winner of Spring’s game coolly makes odds for summer while the losers set themselves up for failure while chasing back wine and rum. Unless you’ve been reading us for a while, you’ve never read a preview quite like this. We’re taking mad bets on the Summer 2013 Anime Season, Vegas-style.