Summer 2019 Anime Impressions

So after two seasons of anime hiatus (sorry about that), I’ve finally pulled myself away from my months-long Devil May Cry binge in order to cover the summer season. And lord, did I immediately regret that upon seeing the seasonal chart. Now, I know I normally talk about 5-6 shows per season, but I just couldn’t find enough shows that I could adequately justify subjecting myself to. Which is why I’m only covering 3 this time. I promise I’ll go back and talk about the good shows from Winter and Spring in my end of year piece, but today I have to cover my 3 Summer season picks.

So, first off is Vinland Saga, one of the more popular shows I’ve covered, which is a show about vikings. I was iffy on the idea of that, but my inner history nerd couldn’t pass it up, so I gave it a watch anyway. A series by Wit Studio, a group I’ve covered very positively in the past, this show out of the gate had a fair bit going for it. Solid premise, respected source material, talented production crew, the expectations were pretty high going in. Right away, the series sets a mixed impression, with an opening battle scene with no context. The aesthetic is very appealing, the choreography is pretty good, and the technical animation is solid, but the direction feels off, to the point where it feels like every shot is zoomed in a little more than it should be, and that the show would’ve benefited from zooming out 10-20%. I’d have at least liked some opening text cards explaining what the fight was about, but that’s one of those things I can go without in a show that still handles itself well. This opening scene is later revealed to be backstory of the time the main character’s father deserted the battlefield and stopped being a soldier, which comes up in the next episode. The early few episodes cover the childhood years of the main character, with strong dramatic storytelling covering a plot that, while nothing special so far, is at least competently put together. I’m not sure it’s necessarily worthy of a top slot of the year, but it is at least an entertaining show to watch.

Next is Fire Force, a show about futuristic firemen that somehow has nothing to do with Fahrenheit 451. No, this is a battle show about putting out humans who’ve spontaneously caught fire and become monsters as a result. Simple-concept shows like this are among the most fun to talk about. At the very least, they’re usually watchable for the spectacle alone. And this one is very much leaning towards that, with the main draws being the quality of the support cast and the spectacle of what’s going on. The protagonist is definitely one of the weaker aspects, using edge to cover up for a lack of really compelling characterization, and boy, is there a lot of edge in this show, but he’s not exactly unlikable or annoying, just not particularly great. I find a lot of secondary elements either uncompelling or sometimes objectionable, particular to that latter category is a side character whose abilities are creating moe cat ears with fire and also causing accidental pervert scenes, either because she refuses to wear a shirt and has openings in her pants, both of which literally get used to accidentally grope her in the first 15 seconds of her introduction, or because the circumstances of the universe cause her to just randomly bump into people in overtly suggestive ways. I can accept that stuff like this is part of the appeal of juvenile fantasies, but I still find it distracting and annoying. Stuff like that and the edginess present in a lot of the backstory and especially the villain characters really drags the show down for me, so I can’t really recommend it in earnest. It’s above average, especially for the genre, but I can’t really give it any higher praise than that.

Finally this season is Do You Even Lift?, which might be the most glorious title of any anime ever made. It opens on a rather weak note, trying to establish that the main girl eats too much and needs to exercise to lose weight, but the actual numbers it uses and the figure of the girl in question do nothing to suggest this, she looks identical to any other anime girl, and only weighs 55kg, which is only about 120lb if you only know the American system, and that’s a perfectly acceptable weight for most people on the shorter end. I harp on this because treating that as severely overweight could be potentially damaging to anyone who has, say, self-image problems which could be negatively reinforced by that kind of thing. Aside from that, the rest of this show can be described as “Cute Girls Hit the Gym”. Now, in the circles I run in, this is the animation equivalent of cocaine, so it’s garnered a fair bit of attention from my friend group. Aside from the obvious appeal of the base premise to those with certain preferences in women (myself included), the series has a pretty good grasp on comedy, especially from the character Akemi, who gets hilariously excited by the thought of working out and muscle building, in a manner that stays funny throughout many uses of the joke. The comically oversized muscles on the trainer are consistently applied in amusing ways as well, with my favorite being when he suddenly appears in a Chippendales outfit in the second episode. The show has a lot of good variety in the various different vignettes about fitness, with the boxing training being my personal favorite, as an avid fan myself. I can give this show a fine enough recommendation as light entertainment, which seems to be all it was going for.

All in all, I’d describe the Summer as the season of popcorn shows. All the shows I watched, and many of the ones I didn’t judging by the MAL descriptions and prior series knowledge where applicable, fit that mold of entertainment value above and beyond other aspects, which is an approach I’m perfectly happy with in moderation, but I hope the Fall season gives some real thematic meat to chew on.

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Author: WhenSomethingCriesAgain

Several years ago, I found myself positively brimming with opinions and insight, with no way to express them, so I began writing, and found that I liked it. I decided to start a page to keep records of my writing, and hopefully convince a few people to agree with my ideas.

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