2013 has been a bit of a dud so far, but this summer can hold its head up proud. I haven’t actually asked Shinmaru and Inushinde on this, but I’m going to speak for them anyway and say they also think summer has been way better than spring and winter. It was part of their contract when they joined The Cart Driver. In related news, Shinmaru reveals love for Death Note and Inushinde finally admits Aria isn’t really that good after all.
Scamp: Attack on Titan
What a bloody fantastic last batch of episodes that was. It had that slow build up with 23, setting the scene before all hell breaks loose and titans start punching each other with characters getting really angry all in one hugely gratifying payoff. It’s a microcosm of everything Attack on Titan did right, and I wish some of the other arcs took a little more cues from this last batch’s pacing. That’s a backhanded compliment though, and I’d prefer to leave this series with a much warmer note, because I really did love Attack on Titan. I’m delighted that it’s become as popular as it is. It’s a big blockbuster action thriller that’s accessible and entertaining and with enough depth that it sticks in the memory beyond the titans punching each other. I do hope they wait a few years before making that inevitable sequel though. Considering the biggest issue was the pacing, the last thing it needs is to drag its arcs even more and stick in filler. I’m happy to wait another 4-5 years for the mangaka to finish before getting more anime.
Shinmaru: Eccentric Family
Watamote and Silver Spoon are my preferred summer series, but I still have to applaud Eccentric Family for its strong finish. I rarely had a problem with how Eccentric Family spent its time; all the screwing around endeared me to the cast, and that pays off during its supremely fun, silly climax. The core message fits in perfectly with how the series conducts itself: Ambition is good and all, but it’s equally great to live a good, interesting life. The battle for the Nisemon position plays out exactly as it should, with nobody winning, because one candidate is too stuffy and serious (and realizes it eventually) and the other is a manipulative asshole. Who would want to be led by one of them? If I had to pick a favorite part, it would definitely be everything with Yajirou. His ride with Papa Shimogamo is one of the most heartwarming moments of the series, and the recreation of that is incredibly funny. Anything with Kinkaku and Ginkaku is great, too. They’re rarely actually threatening, but they’re irritating in the best way. I enjoyed my time with all these goofy ass tanuki.
Inushinde: Senki Zesshou Symphogear G: In the Distance, That Day, When the Star Became Music…
The erratic subbing of Senki Zesshou Symphogear G was a blow both to my blogging schedule, and my enjoyment of the summer season. Thankfully, the hope that I held earlier in the season was not misplaced. Even if Commie continues dragging their feet with the final episode, I’m more than happy enough with what I’ve been given that I don’t need a finale to make me satisfied. This last stretch has been one wonderfully goofy moment after another, especially whenever Dr. Ver graces us with his presence. The highlights are a bizarrely detailed, character developing spaghetti eating sequence and a training montage (where the characters sing their own montage music) in the same goddamn episode. Symphogear just wants to have fun, and it will make you have fun with it, even if it has to pull the moon closer to the earth with a giant plasma arm to do so. Even without the finale, I got everything that I could’ve ever wanted from Symphogear’s second season. That’s something that I can’t say for many shows.
What’s not so Hot
Scamp: Blue Exorcist Movie
I didn’t have any TV series I felt like picking on, so instead I’ll have to go for a movie that was technically released last month but I only got to it this month. Perhaps expecting anything from a shounen filler movie is unfair, but I’d heard some good things and did quite like Blue Exorcist, but the movie was about as shallow as any shounen filler movie you care to mention. I found it annoying that the animators clearly had more time and budget to work with, but could only think of dumping their sakuga talent into fluid, explosions and tentacles with an extended opening sequence that was completely inconsequential and really boring. Meanwhile the actually important thing they could have been doing was selling the little boy as a character with his movements in the way Ghibli does their child animations, but it didn’t work at all. Plus it ended on a massive ass-pull final villain and a convenient memory-wipe for everyone involved.
Free! is enjoyable fluff; it’s fun enough when the boys are tooling around and being silly. When it’s dramatic, though? Not quite as much fun. Unfortunately, the final stretch is inevitably loaded with drama where the boys must resolve their issues with Rin and become Best Friends Forever once more. I don’t have a problem with the drama being overblown — these are teenagers, after all, and this is their entire world. It’s mostly that I got attached to them only enough to be amused by their antics and not quite enough to care about the more serious portions of the show. Rei is probably the only one capable of carrying drama, because his status as outsider trying to break in to this group of friends is sort of interesting, but unfortunately he has to step aside for the ending to work. I didn’t have quite as big an issue with the resolution as some (I found it an appropriately silly way to resolve things), but that’s about as far as my praise goes. The final stretch is mostly boring with flashes of fun. At least there was pretty swimming.
Inushinde: Rozen Maiden
For all of its improvements over its parent series, the 2013 remake of Rozen Maiden fell short in one key regard: Tying the concept of the Alice Game to alternate Jun’s life. While Shinku and Suigintou make a brilliant return, the rest of the cast only seems added in for fanservice; nobody asked for more of the -seki sisters. Probably its biggest stumbling block is with its treatment of Kirakishou, the main villain. She’s certainly effective, but the series treats her as a plot convenience, rather than as the lonely child that she is. The writing is still leagues better than that of the original series, but it comes up short in enough ways that I finished Rozen Maiden feeling underwhelmed. Now if they had a training montage where the sang their own montage music, that might change things, but not everything can be Symphogear.