Jordan and Fraser pick their favourite new shows from the summer anime season, what are yours?
We’ve been checking out all of the new series that are being simulcast this season and have tried our very best to narrow down our favourites. You’ll notice certain titles like Dragon Ball Super missing, this is due to the fact they are not available in the UK.
So, here they are, our favourite anime series of the summer 2015 season:
Gakkou Gurashi! / School-Live!
School-Live! is, at first glance, a typical slice-of-life anime, focusing on a group of four girls who make up the School Living Club, their dog, Taroumaru, and their faculty adviser, Megumi Sakura. The series is produced by Studio Lerche, who are also behind another of our recommendations, Monster Musume. The series writer happens to be the original creator of the manga, which provides hope that we will be treated to a finale at the end of the season that doesn’t feel like a cop-out, as can happen all too often with anime adaptations. Coincidentally, he wrote the prequel novel for Suisei no Gargantia, a title Manga UK released last year.
The series starts with Yuki Takeya attending classes; meanwhile, the other members of her club focus on School Living Club activities. Meals are had within the club room, rather than in the school cafeteria, but it remains one of those ‘cute girls doing cute things’ type of anime we’ve all come to adore (or hate). Their club advisor is also present, though not much, with Yuki pointing out that she does not stand out at all. One member of the club, Kurumi Ebisuzawa, the almost mandatory twin-tailed character, carries a shovel around with her at all times; she is seemingly involved with horticultural club activities as well. Her character is introduced on the roof of the school, where we also see water being collected and crops grown.
While that alone would make it worth watching, the brilliance of School-Live! lies in the subtle hints provided throughout episode 1 and the game-changing plot twist that follows.
Charlotte is the second original anime production created by Visual Novel brand Key, coming to us five years after Angel Beats!, which is distributed by Manga UK. Charlotte is the first series featuring Yoshiyuki Asai as director, although he has directed and storyboarded individual episodes of shows before, such as Fairy Tail and Soul Eater. Jun Maeda, (Angel Beats!) is also the original creator of Charlotte.
The series is set in an alternate world, in which a small number of adolescents are capable of manifesting mild superpowers. These superpowers are never quite what they seem at face value, being imperfect in execution. The anime starts with main character Yuu Otosaka explaining his power, the ability to temporarily possess a person in his line of sight for 8 seconds, and how it has little practical use. He does realise that it can be used to cheat in exams, by means of possessing those known to be intelligent and memorising answers, 8 seconds at a time. He utilises this to enter a prestigious high school, but Nao Tomori, a girl with the power to be effectively invisible to a singular person, discovers his cheating and forces him to transfer to Hoshinoumi Academy, where he is to join the student council.
What at first seems to be an anime about a guy abusing his power to benefit himself, somewhat in the same vein as Code Geass, soon reveals itself to be about finding other people with powers and prevent them from being discovered and experimented upon. The first episode is enough to generate some emotional investment in the anime, but the glimpse into Nao’s backstory in episode two is tear-inducing, ensuring you want to know more about this world and watch the student council “save” others with powers.
When a portal to a parallel world appears on the busy streets of Ginza, Tokyo, Japan has to face unimaginable threats. Monsters and troops that look like they’ve been ripped straight out of a fantasy movie, pour out and attack anyone in sight.
Youji Itami, a hardcore otaku and an off-duty Japan Self-Defense Force Officer, steps up to the challenge of protecting as many civilians as possible. His life and the lives of his co-workers are about to change forever, as they take the fight to the other side of the Gate.
It’s fair to say that GATE is a little slow to begin with, it’s taking the time to build up the world and the characters. This isn’t a bad thing, as it honestly feels like a show that will take viewers to some pretty interesting places later on and being a 24 episode series, it has plenty of time left to wow us.
This is definitely one to keep an eye on!
Himouto Umaru-chan is a comedy series from Studio Doga Kobo, adapted from the manga of the same name. It focuses on the life of Umaru Doma, a high school girl who lives with her older brother Taihei. When she is at school, or amongst her friends, she is the ideal student with top grades, talent to spare and good looks as well; this all changes when she returns to her home. At home, she just lazes around wearing a strange fleece hamster-themed cape, watching anime and playing video games, all the while depending completely upon her older brother. Naturally, when Umaru devolves into this character, her character design changes into a super deformed version of herself. On occasion, she does accidentally allow herself to be seen in her “indoor mode”; on one of these occasions she covers up her mistake by pretending to be her own little sister and befriending a classmate.
This anime manages to, unlike Charlotte, portray an annoying little sister in a cute way at all times; this is mostly due to the chibification she undergoes. Watching Umaru’s life will make one, at times, jealous of her being an expert at seemingly everything she attempts. At times, she visits the arcade, wearing a cap and going by the initials UMR, in order to play games and expertly win prizes from crane games. The staff even go so far as to narrate her winning at these games, and naming the “moves” she uses to win on the first try without issue. Himouto Umaru-chan is worth watching, even if just to take note of her techniques, such as the one she uses for snack sessions, and later give them a try yourself.
Monster Musume, known as Everyday Life with Monster Girls in Japan, is definitely an intriguing anime, focusing on Kimihito Kurusu and his life being impacted by the Interspecies Cultural Exchange. Initially, he lives with only one monster girl, a lamia (human/snake hybrid) called Mia. This quickly expands to include other monster girls, including Papi, Centorea, and Suu; they are a harpie, centaur, and slime respectively. While providing social commentary on how people react to, in this case monster/human hybrids, this anime also seeks to answer many of the, sometimes inappropriate, questions people will inevitably come up with. For example, the lamia does wear panties, as is discovered when Kimihito accidentally grabs them.
There are some cringeworthy moments in each episode, but it keeps you asking questions and wanting to know more. Each of the monster girls wants to marry Kimihito, and you can’t help but wonder as to the logistics of each of these potential relationships. That aside, all of the girls so far have charming, albeit, flawed personalities, and it’s certainly going to be interesting to see which, if any, of the girls he chooses to marry. Kimihito sees each of the girls as people, rather than just monsters, even going so far as to insert himself between Mia attacking someone being cruel in the street in order to prevent her deportation. It’s certainly heart-warming to see him treat these girls with the respect and courtesy they deserve as individuals. If you’re in it for the fan service, or the story, this anime is primed to please.
Ushio and Tora
Ushio and Tora is an action anime adaptation of a manga, brought to us from Studio MAPPA and director Satoshi Nishimura. 500 years ago, a demon was impaled on a stone alter with the legendary Beast Spear. Ushio, son of a temple keeper, is forced to release the demon, Tora, from his 500 years of captivity in his basement in order to save his family and friends from invading spirits. Tora wants to eat Ushio, but while he has the Beast Spear this is impossible.
Ushio and Tora is quickly shaping up to be one of the better new anime this season, and this is due, at least in part, to the relationship between Ushio and Tora. Tora seems to act downright tsundere at times, and this is partnered perfectly with how he is animated during these instances. You could easily substitute in a tsundere human girl, and the scenes would somewhat work; the humour derived from a tiger demon acting tsundere towards the human he wishes to eat is perfect in complementing the action that is the main story.
Despite being a new anime this season, it manages to evoke feelings of nostalgia while watching. I would attribute this to the art style and it being based on a manga from the 90s. It is definitely a welcome addition to the simulcast line-up, and with 39 episodes spread over two seasons it’s going to be a fun journey seeing if Tora ever actually eats Ushio or if they just further refine the mutual respect they have been developing so far.
These are just some of our favourites, make sure you tell us yours!