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August 7, 2014

Five Animes You Should Binge Watch This Summer

tokyo-ghoul-anime

At this point in the summer we are in the thick of Summer Anime Season. As a general note pilots can be rough. While they give an idea of what the series will become the show can radically change once the show gets its bearings. With that in mind and since most anime are currently four or five episodes into their season we can now get a better idea of which ones you should binge watch and which ones are falling a bit flat. We have chosen to highlight five shows you should immediately catch up on!

1) BLACK BUTLER; THE BOOK OF CIRCUS

Essentially pretending that the fan service-laced, Ciel/Sebastian ship-athon that was Season Two of Black Butler never existed, this season focuses on one of the most beloved stories within the Black Butler manga, the circus arc. Black Butler was always very well animated, being one of the top franchises in Japan, but they’ve really stepped up the animation budget on this season. This season is able to handle very dark themes with, so far, a lot of mystery and captivating and nuanced characters. The antagonists have proven to be, without revealing everything, incredibly sympathetic people while still doing some mysterious but obviously bad stuff. The circus looks gorgeous, as do all the performers but what’s really great about this season is that they are utilizing the relationship between Ciel and Sebastian the right way. Yes, yes, fandom will always ship them, but they make a lot of choices that show off that they don’t have a loving relationship, they have a “I will do whatever it takes to get your soul, therefore I will do whatever it takes to make sure I get it,” relationship. Sebastian does whatever it takes to keep his master safe and achieve his goals. Whatever it takes.

2) TOKYO GHOUL

After receiving an organ donation college student Ken Keneki finds himself between the world of humans and ghouls (vampire-like, humanoid characters, who survive by eating humans). What this series does better than many other series is its ability to show gore and portray sociopathic characters (like the Gourmet amongst others) without it being gratuitous. The characters feel very disturbing, ghouls are constantly eating flesh, and blood is constantly flowing but somehow they are able to balance it so most audiences will still be able to watch this bloody, violent, but intriguing tale of a boy forced to walk between being a human and being a ghoul.

3) GEKKAN SHOUJO NOZAKI-KUN

This deconstruction of shoujo tropes really sings. The characters are well developed, it takes turns you might not expect, and God is this funny. The story follows Chiyo Sakura who confesses her crush to her classmate, Umetaro Nozaki, who mistakes this as her being a fan of his work as a shoujo writer/artist. The show relies on a lot of unexpected, slightly cringe-worthy comedy and very well thought out characters. Some of the “I’m assuming this person my love interest is talking about is this type of person but, surprise they are completely different” gags become a little predictable, however the punch lines always land and the show is always able to up the ante whenever they do introduce the “it’s not what you expect” style of humor.

4) SAILOR MOON: CRYSTAL

I know I know, it’s predictable that this would make the list. The show is anything but predictable however. They are staying much closer to the manga, Tuxedo Mask shows up to occasionally help but Usagi shines by being her usual clumsy, whiny self, but also being a badass and destroying evil on her own or with her friends. Also making Mamoru a high school student instead of a college student makes their age gap a little bit more manageable as a couple. They are also cutting out a lot of the filler so they can focus on Usagi meeting each of the Sailor Scouts and taking the fight to Queen Beryl. The only drawbacks I’ve found so far are that the transformation sequence looks strange in CGI, I wanted the theme song to be the original by a new band, and I miss the gorgeous art they used to lead into Queen Beryl’s realm. All things considered these are small aesthetic problems and simply opinion-based. The new theme song still kicks ass and promotes a lot of the pseudo-feminist ideology the manga did a great job of emphasizing, the transformation sequence is only a small part of the show, and even without the gorgeously dark still image they do a great job of emphasizing darkness. This show so far has been trimming the fat so the story moves along quickly without losing character development. We can all love the original series, and haters are going to hate, but this reboot truly is the real deal and incredibly compelling.

5) BARAKAMON

Barakamon is about a professional calligrapher. This show reminds me of Free. No not because of the copious amounts of buff shirtless men but because it is this season’s “You’re watching a show about something banal which sounds incredibly boring.” Instead of “The Swimming Anime,” we’re talking about “The Anime about Calligraphy.” Yep. It’s about a calligrapher, Seishu Handa, who breaks down at a competition and moves out to the country. What they do extremely well in this anime is their ability to lead into potentially pretentious moments about art, the artistic process, and the brooding artist trope but the second these topics start to wear out their welcome the writers use comedy to jerk you back into the show. It also displays an amazing amount of heart and depth of character portraying all the people in the country that the main character interacts with, and also the little girl playing the little girl in the show is incredibly adorable, a great voice actress, and adds to the aesthetic of the show.

Speaking of Free, let’s talk about their second season. While many of us were excited to see the shirtless muscular swim teams we fell in love with, the story is becoming a bit lackluster this season. Part of this is because the story, while very realistic, dealing with identity and the future, doesn’t leave a lot of mystery. There’s a new character that does some curious things, but it’s not as compelling as the mysterious reason SHARK was so cold after years of not seeing the core gang and watching them get things started. Season One could be a contender to rank as one of the better sports stories because of how well the audience was able to connect with the characters, and how compelling the mystery of their past was. Now that this mystery is over this new season just feels like fan service. Perhaps if he had ties to all the characters somehow it would be a lot more compelling, but it would just be rehashing the first season. The jokes are still funny but it lacks a lot of what set Season One apart from a lot of other sports anime. So watch it if you want, and maybe it’ll pick up by the end of the season, but at the moment it’s starting this season a bit lackluster.

Obviously a lot of anime has come out this summer season and we aren’t covering them all. Do you agree, disagree, or want to make your own recommendation? Leave a note in the comments below!



About the Author

Ashley Rogers
Ashley Lauren Rogers earned a Bachelor’s of English Literature and Theatre at Fitchburg State College, was invited to the two week summer playwriting intensive at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, had shows produced in New York City as part of Stage Left Studio and the New York Nineteenth Century Society, Theatre To Go in Melrose MA, and as part of the Fresh Fruit Festival in NYC. Recently her work has been displayed as part of Stage Left Studio’s sold out Gender: A Performance Project, and her show Bite Curious,was a part of White Rabbit Production’s Scream Queens and Crazed Fiends, short play event. Her one person show PASS/FAIL will receive its premiere at Dixon Place Lounge NYC in February and will be performed for The Midtown International Theatre Festival: Spring Edition in March. Ashley is a recipient of the ACM Award for Comedy Video for writing the pilot of Marisa and Rocco, is the creator of Ashley Rogers Does Something Awesome, Monthly Tea with Madeline Foxtrot, all through Dogtoon Media. She has been featured in the Frenchy and The Punk Music video for “House of Cards,” Sundance Channel’s “Young Broke and Beautiful,” and TLC’s “Bling It On.” Ashley has written articles for Beyond Victoriana and Steampunk Magazine Online, has been a vlogger and a blogger for NerdCaliber.com. Ashley has developed a workshop for writers to learn how write for trans and non-binary narratives.




 
 

 
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