Summer is here and instead of hitting the beach, catching some rays, or whatever other nonsense people do in these months of extreme heat, I’ve been deep in the secret underground lair (read: my ground level apartment) sifting through the first episode or two of a whole bunch of new anime from the Summer Season to find those gems you’re going to want to check out. I just want to spread the love and direct you all right to the good stuff.
As always, here are the rules:
1. I limit things to new anime seasons/series currently available legally. It’s fine if the show is an adaptation, but no previously released material that’s been re-edited for television will be considered.
2. Only new shows or existing shows with minimal required effort on time and finances for the viewer to get into the show. I’ve nothing against longer series and shows behind pay walls of lesser known or used services is just a reality of the times we live in. That said, I want to keep the initial investment for the audience at or next to nothing so that they can check out the shows without worry.
3. All adaptations are selected on their own merit. I’m judging the show, not the work that inspired the show.
Want a nice list of almost everything I checked out, you can find it here.
I can already hear the purists out there screaming “This isn’t anime!”, and you know what, I agree with you and that’s why I’m not putting it on the official list. I have to draw the line somewhere, and while the show is based on a classic Japanese video game franchise from Konami and is being done in an anime style, the shows animation is being headed by Frederator and Powerhouse Animation (both American companies) with a script from none other than famous Brit author, Warren Ellis!
I haven’t been able to watch all of it yet (I’m a busy guy and I had over twenty-five shows to check out) but from what I did see the show looks like it kicks ass. Netflix has already greenlit further episodes and I can’t wait to grab some popcorn and give this show the time it deserves.
Little Witch Academia:
The only reason Little Witch Academia isn’t on this list and at number one is because by my very own rules, it can’t be. The first thirteen episodes recently dropped on Netflix and I couldn’t be happier! I love this franchise and it was the introduction of the original short in 2013 that put fan favorite studio, Trigger, on the map. Unfortunately, the show just completed its run in Japan this June and isn’t part of the summer season and thus is ineligible. That’s why I added the honorable mentions section when I started doing this so that I could highlight shows couldn’t make the list but I still wanted to talk about.
The show follows friends Akko, Lotte, and Sucy (a personal favorite of mine) as through their trials and tribulations at Luna Nova, a school of witches.The show borrows more than a little from the Harry Potter franchise, but don’t mistake this series as a simple gender swap. This is some of the best animation and visual design you will ever see, period. The craft and care bringing this show to life is truly a marvel that should be enjoyed by everyone.
On to the list proper!
5. Knight’s & Magic:
Young Ernesti Echevalier is the soul of a talented programmer and mech enthusiast reborn into a magical world full of monsters. Protecting the kingdom are the Silhouette Knights, giant mech frames piloted by trained warriors known as Knight Runners. Ernesti still possesses some memories of his past life and that helps him master and innovate advanced magic which allows him to skip all the basic classes when he joins Laihiala Academy, the place that trains Knight Runners.
I’m going to level with you, the show here is only okay. In a season filled with shows that have clever ideas that fall flat due to some rather bland and uninspired writing this show cements its position on the list simply by doing a competent job. The person transported/reborn into a fantasy world is an slightly overused trope in current anime and while the show does little stray from the well beaten path it makes sure to deliver as best it can in visuals and writing for this type of story. Add fighting mechs on top of that and now you have my attention. Ernesti’s quest to join the Knight Runners and build his own custom suit could be going to some very cool places as and the show makes mechs fighting monsters in a silly world what it should be, fun. You can get in on said fun on Crunchyroll. The show will also be on Funimation, but not until the end of the month.
4. Tsuredure Children:
Young love is hard. Nobody has a clue what they are doing and a ridiculous amount of awkwardness abounds. It is in those “precious” moments where this show lives. The 4-koma manga by Toshiya Wakabayashi is being translated into an anime by Studio Gokumi.
The short twelve minute run time works great for the show as it gives just enough screen time for the jokes to hit and is over before you get sick of things. A longer run time would only screw this show up. Another plus is the lack of a central character, this allows you to take the stories as they come without feeling that you are being distracted from the goings on of a particular MC. I should also praise the coloring which makes the series feel more grounded, intimate, and personal with its slightly muted tone but can adapt a more ethereal look for some of the more emotional beats without being jarring. This is easily digestible chunks of fun, a tasty snack of an anime, if you will. Find all the goofy young love over on Crunchyroll and it will soon be released over at Funimation as well.
3. Fastest Finger First (7O3X):
If I’ve learned anything watching anime is that it has the ability to make any hobby/activity seem epic as hell. How else can I explain why I found a show a bunch of high school kids who enjoy quiz bowls is a good time?
Koshiyama Shiki is a freshmen just starting his high school odyssey. Shiki isn’t all that charismatic and his small size and lack of physical skill means traditional sports aren’t an option for him either. He is whip smart and knows more than most about literature, but these things don’t gain him much attention. He’s almost ready to fade into the background completely when the universe intervenes and Koshiyama has a chance encounter with a cute girl named Fukami Mari. Mari, who is also a new student and super passionate about quiz bowls learns through one fateful fall and Shiki’s performance after being forced to participate in a sample quiz bowl that he could be very good at the thing she loves most. Soon Shiki’s life is invaded by a colorful assortment of wacky characters as he enters the world of quiz bowls.
TMS is bringing this adaptation of Iqura Sugimoto’s manga to life and is doing a fine job of it. It’s obvious the show only has a modest budget, but it uses what it has to maximum effectiveness and that makes me like it even more. The way the show is able to build tension and explain the mechanics of everything that is going on with the visuals is something I’ve only seen fully realized in comics and animation. You can feel the characters’ excitement and genuine passion for what they are doing and you get invested in their struggle.
If you’ve watched any sports/competition anime you’ll pick up on the character archetypes almost immediately, but the show has enough personality of its own to feel fresh and exciting. You can see if this show hits your buzzer over on Crunchyroll.
2. Magical Circle Guru-Guru:
Wackiness aplenty comes to us courtesy of this new adaptation of the classic manga by Hiroyuki Eto by Production I.G. The manga ran from 1992-2003 and is well known across Japan, but this anime marks the biggest exposure this franchise has ever had to western audiences.
Nike and Kukuri are young kids tasked with defeating the evil Giri, too bad they suck at their jobs. They’re going to need some help to pull this off, sadly everyone else is as madcap and ineffective as they are.
This is a screwball comedy set against the backdrop of a classic RPG like Dragonquest of the first couple Final Fantasy games. The retro aesthetic matches the character design which is from a time before the more modern sensibilities (do not read “modern” as “better”) in the look of anime took hold. This makes the show feel more authentic and timeless. Not every joke hits and the show can be more then a little juvenile at points, but then it brings things back around with something clever and interesting. Also, let’s just admit it, juvenile jokes are sometimes really funny. The show throws everything including the kitchen sink at its audience so you have to strap in and go where the ride takes you. It is both a love letter and a savage mockery of something near and dear to a great many of and I dig it. You can get nuts over on Crunchyroll.
Amano Keita is a dude who just loves video games. He’s a natural loner with no real social or academic skill to speak of, but his enthusiasm for games brings him to the attention of Tendo Karen, a smart super-popular girl who is known for her looks and academics but what most folks don’t know is she’s also is a serious gamer. Karen is the president of the newly reformed Gamers Club and she’s set her sights on Amano Keita as he seems exactly the kind of person she wants around. What comes all of this good old fashion hilarity.
On top of how much I enjoy that it shows people enjoying real games of varying genres in various ways without making any judgement as to what is the proper way to play and enjoy them (a message the gaming community certainly needs more of) I appreciate what a well constructed piece of comedy it is and the shows willingness to throw us a couple curveballs to spice up the story. The big swerve in the first episode is great because it comes from a place of character, The show went out of its way to make sure that it earned that bit instead of just dropping in some nonsense for comedic effect. The second episode was even better. I immediately connected with the tone of the show as well as the characters and was laughing my ass of the entire time. It isn’t often something grabs hold of me right away like this and for how quickly I got invested I feel the show deserves nothing less than the top spot. I can only hope that these first eps isn’t a fluke and the rest of the series delivers on the same level. You can find the series over on Crunchyroll and it will also be coming to Funimation although at the time of writing this no release date has been announced.