I saw this list the other day: 10 new anime to look out for in summer and i went … nope, nope, nope. of course, this is a matter of personal taste though i was disappointed the list missed out on some good selections.
so here’s my personal list, in no particular order.
shokugeki no soma s2
watching this never fails to make me feel gluttonous. season one saw soma – the titular protagonist – enrolled in the prestigious toutsuki culinary academy and meeting other culinary geniuses (some friends, some foes). it ended on a cliff hanger – a cooking competition to determine who gets a shot at the autumn elections, where a representative from the cohort will be elected to the student council known as the elite ten. season two continues with the quarter finals of the tournament.
shokugeki no soma is food porn at its most flagrant. remember, don’t watch it with an empty stomach.
arslan senki s2
i love epics. and arslan is a blue-blooded one with all the requisite ingredients. a coup. a fallen prince. a motley crew of loyalists. lavish battle scenes. political intrigue. religious fundamentalism.
originally a novel, it has been transposed into manga and anime a few times. this anime is a remake based on hiromu arakawa’s manga (of fullmetal alchemist fame) of the classic tale. the novel itself appears to be loosely based on the exploits of cyrus the great. there’s enough action and political intrigue to satisfy anyone. and an interesting cast of characters.
if you can send a letter back in time to yourself, how will you advise your younger self? this reminds me of angela aki’s song tegami (grettings to a 15-year-old). but the similarity stops there. while aki’s song is full of hope and assurance, this anime takes on a more sombre tone. can that letter prevent a tragedy from happening? can one change the future?
tales of zestiria the x
zestiria is based on a role-playing game, part of the popular RPG franchise known as the tales of series. not as well known in the west as final fantasy and dragonquest, it apparently has a strong following in japan. i’ve never heard of the game but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the first 2 episodes.
the opening episode cut to the chase immediately: a princess-knight on an expedition is chased down by an unnatural storm that appears to be the work of dark/evil forces. her comrades lost, she takes refuge in a ruin and accidentally stumbles into a strange world. there she meets 2 young men. i am excited to see what happens next.
this is going to be a 5+1 anime ie 5 anime episodes plus a film. the story is set in a dystopian future, in a derelict city which, 30 years earlier, was abandoned after a germ-bomb struck it. devoid of human activity, the city is still guarded by machines. one day, a junk collector sneaks into the city to scavenge and is pursued by machines. he hids in an old shopping mall, where he meets yumemi, a humanoid robot who, newly awakened, is eagerly waiting for her first customer after 29 years and 81 days. this is the story of an encounter between a man and a wistful robot.
finally, an anime that does not take place in a high school, or a dystopian future or a high school in a dystopian future. this is a story of revenge, set in the united states of america during the prohibition period (1920 to 1933) when alcohol was banned under the constitution (and they criticised us for banning chewing gum?). i’m not sure why the title 91 days (maybe that’s how much time the revenge will require?). 91 days does remind me of the boisterous, often confusing and over-the-top anime known as baccano. it may not be as elaborate but a change of scenery is always welcomed.
you can’t go wrong with a sports anime. it’s a microcosm of the real world except there’s a lot more zeal, inspiration and talent (in the anime). days reminds me of the excellent cycling anime, yowamushi pedal. just that maybe the nerd guy in days has a lot less talent for the sport than the nerd guy in yowamushi. what they both have, is the help of friends/seniors who noticed that special quality in them (again, the real world falls short on this one). now, i’m waiting for them to make one about dragon boat padding.
cheer boys is centred on a bunch of undergrad guys trying to form an all-male cheer leading team for their university, something quite unheard of since cheer-leading crews tend to be all-female. one wants to do it in memory of his late parents who met and fell in love because of cheer leading. the other wants a perfect excuse to quit judo because of the overwhelming expectations heaped on him. now, all they have to do is to ignore those weird looks from peers, overcome their gawkiness and recruit enough members (7) to make their debut at the school festival and (16) to make it to the tournaments. right? it will be interesting to see how they transform themselves from novices into an actual, functional, cheer leading team.
mob psycho 100
mob psycho 100 is based on the web-comics by one, yes, the same one who serialised one-punch man. no wonder i thought the character design looks familiar.
mob is a nondescript high school boy who excels at nothing, but who is one hell of a psychic. he works for reigen arataka, the owner of a spirits agency (the exorcising, ghost-busting kind) but who is really a con artist. what tickled me was the naming convention in the anime, a hallmark of one.
the story takes place in choumi shi 調味市 (condiment city), mob studies in shio chuugakkou塩中学校 (salt middle high school), his main rival hails from kurozu chuugakkou 黒酢中学校 (black vinegar high school), and then there are other characters from kakusei kenkyujo 觉醒研究所 (awakening institute, possibly named after a stimulant drug), tsume 爪(claws) and nikutaikaizoubu肉体改造部 (body transformation department) etc. intrigued yet?
amaama to inazuma
amaama to inazuma is the antithesis of mob. where mob is frenzied, amaama is soothing. kohei inuzuka is a single father (lost his wife to an illness) struggling to juggle his teaching job and being a responsible mum/dad to his pre-school daughter tusmugi. due to lack of time and skills, they often eat takeouts and pre-packed food so tsumugi really yearns for a proper home-cooked meal. one day, while at the park, they meet kotori, a student from his school. kotori invites them to dine at her mother’s restaurant; kohei has reservations due to his status as a teacher in her school. but kotori is just hoping to have company for meals – because her mother is too busy and is seldom at home. this is another food-themed anime, one that puts the spotlight on wholesome, home cooked (and most importantly), easy-to-make meals.
there’s a bumper crop of good anime this summer so i’m going to suggest a few more below.
initially, there was confusion about how to classify thunderbolt. is it anime or is it puppetry? or is it a new genre? (i think they are calling it an anime after all). apparently, gen urobuchi (puella magi madoka magica, fate/zero, psycho-pass) saw glove-puppetry in action in taiwan and decided to make a new story based on it. those who are acquainted with wuxia novels by the likes of gulong, liang yusheng and louis cha, will find the narrative familiar. it felt a bit strange for me (especially how the names were translated from the min nan dialect) but there’s no denying the action sequences are very very well enacted.
honobono means heartwarming. honobono log is a collection of feel-good stories of couples and families. a word of caution: singles who are feeling lonely should give this a miss.
saiki kusuo no Ψ nan
to saiki, his abilities: telepathy, psychokinesis, clairvoyance, teleportation, x-ray vision, precognition and more, are an annoyance. although life is peaceful, he is unable to feel joy or fun because the element of surprise and effort has been nullified. saiki tries to avoid using his powers in school but somehow he got into a dicey situations which called for his esp powers. if you have extrasensory perception, how will you use it?
these are the main ones that i will be following. looks like it’s going to be a busy ‘summer’.