Summer 2021: Anime Season First Impressions

A new anime season is upon us, and now that I’ve ditched most of the poorly paying freelancing I foolishly piled on in the past year, I’m actually going to WATCH SOME STUFF. Well, I say that now. Who knows how much I’ll actually keep watching throughout the upcoming months…

Still, in the spirit of getting back into the swing of Doing Things I Actually Enjoy In My Free Time, I thought it would be fun to write up a quick first impressions list of all the premieres I watched. By the time I’m writing, I’ve seen at least the first two episodes of everything, except for Sonny Boy and Love Live! (only one ep was out when I wrote this up).

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Sotsu

I’m enjoying the hell out of this already, as expected. I was actually lukewarm on the anime series from 2006, but eventually I started playing through the visual novel and got more into the story. So when Gou was announced last year, I was pretty excited to see the Studio Deen Higurashi faces updated, and I adored the Akio Watanabe designs. Still, I didn’t expect much from a remake…UNTIL THEY SAID SURPRISE, IT’S NOT A REMAKE, IT’S A SEQUEL!! AND THEN, THEY ANNOUNCED A SURPRISE SEQUEL TO THE THE SEQUEL!!!!!

If you haven’t seen Gou yet don’t read beyond this point if you plan to watch – but Sotsu picks up where the last season left off and has us repeating the events of the first few episodes from Satoko’s perspective. She is such a little shit, and I’m loving every minute of it. It has been delightful to watch her continuously screw over all of her friends in the name of keeping her lesbian love intact. Higurashi was already very much my jam, but add another layer of trauma exploration and unhinged lesbianism and guess what – that’s a Jenn-core franchise right there. If I keep my blogging and anime watching habits up, I’ll expand on what makes Gou and (so far) Sotsu so great. For now, I’ll just say that it didn’t pull any punches with these first three episodes and has easily become my favorite anime event of the year.

Girlfriend, Girlfriend

This is incredibly dumb, and I’m incredibly into it. The premise is this – Naoya has finally managed to get his childhood friend Saki to date him! There’s just one problem: another cute girl, Nagisa, has just confessed to him. Naoya can’t just say no, but he can’t dump Saki, either. So, he decides to date them both and then asks them to move in with him! This all happens within the first episode. It jumps right to the punch, and I kind of love it for that. Clearly, this series is not aiming for realism, so screw that slow burn stuff and get straight to the high school co-eds!

Now, this show isn’t going to work for everyone. It’s obnoxious – the main characters love to scream and yell all their lines – and if you’re looking for polyamorous representation, you won’t find it here. Nagisa and Saki have some homoerotic teases, but they primarily view one another as rivals., not fellow girlfriends. In my heart, I want them all to be bisexual and in love…maybe invite another boy along for the ride, too….but judging by the bits of the manga I gleaned, this will not be that kind of story. That being said, I love me some trashy, pulpy anime romances, so I’m still all in on this. I’m bracing myself for lots of queerbaiting, though!

The Aquatope on white sand

Aquatope begins with Fuuka, a recently fired idol who decides to head to Okinawa instead of going home to face her family. While there, she takes a visit to the Gama Gama Aquarium – an aquarium that is currently being run by another high schooler, Kukuru. Fuuka begs for a job, and since the aquarium is understaffed and in danger of getting closed down, Kukuru agrees to let her work there. Now, Fuuka is living at Kukuru’s family home and lying to her mom about it. Oh, and sometimes they are sucked into a magical realism aquarium and there’s a little goblin thing running around eatin’ fish.

I’m always a bit iffy about P.A. Works originals. I liked Hanasaku Iroha and everyone says I would like Shirobako (which I still haven’t seen). Everything else has been…kind of a mess, though usually it was because Jun Maeda was involved (sorry Charlotte fans). All that being said, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about Aquatope. It looked pretty, sure, but would it actually be good? So far, the answer is yes! I liked the visuals right away, sure, but what really pulled me in was the scene where Fuuka chases away some shady businessmen with a hose. Something about this meek girl snapping at these opportunistic scuzzbags just put a smile on my face, and if the show has more moments like that in store, then I’m all in.

Vanitas no Carte (The Case Study of Vanitas)

A gothic erotic vampire series full of pretty men? Sign me up! This series has Vanitas, a human who “cures” vampires of their predatory urges, and Noé, a vampire, running around Paris. There’s some nonsense about being a Blue Moon Vampire and a Red Moon vampire that they’ve explained multiple times in the past three episodes, but I still keep forgetting what any of it means.

Which is my main issue with Vanitas. It has captivating animation, a fantastic soundtrack, and really entertaining characters – Vanitas is ridiculously campy and so is Dominique, who appears in episode three, carries around a machine to blow rose petals so she can make dramatic entrances. Everyone’s great and everything looks great, but the actual plot is where it gets iffy. There are a lot of exposition dumps that totally lose me when they happen. I think I’m in the minority giving this series a tentative B-, but I have a feeling this will serve as little more than eye candy in the end. Hopefully I’ll be proved wrong, though!

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S

Kyoto Animation is back, baby! It’s bittersweet, given that Yasuhiro Takemoto, director of the first season of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, tragically died in the KyoAni arson. Takemoto was posthumously credited on the first episode of the new season, which admittedly made me feel a whole lot of emotions.

Just like before, the storyboarding and directing for the series is on-point. This time, we’re introduced to a new dragon, Ilulu, and a lot of the same beats of the first season are being repeated: dragon racism, being horny for Kobayashi, needing to fit in with humans, etc. All that’s not a bad thing – the series is at its best when it’s exploring the dynamics of found families and love despite differences – but I’m hoping this follow-up will bloom into something new.

My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead To Doom! X

Katarina successfully avoided her doom flags and is ready to live the rest of her life peacefully…or so she thinks. Her bisexual harem is now vying for her love and she’s still too dumb to understand that they’re hitting on her. There are new characters and new predicaments, but there’s still the same old charm.

I wasn’t really sure if this series could work with another season, because it’s not like there’s that much depth to it. But three episodes in and I’m still plenty amused, and it doesn’t feel repetitive like I feared it would. Season one was consistently good fun, so I’m excited to enjoy it for another twelve episodes.

Sonny Boy

The highly anticipated collaboration between Shingo Natsume and Madhouse did not disappoint. This premiere felt like it could have worked as a stand-alone short film all on its own – we are immediately introduced to the sci-fi concept of a high school drifting through another dimension. We learn the ins and outs of various students who inhabit this new, strange space. I was struck by how fleshed-out and familiar these characters already feel. One character, Rajdhani, is only on screen for a short while, but we see him studiously attempting to mathematically determine the limits of this bizarre dimension they are in. This was such a neat way of introducing the character – introducing him not by the way he interacts with other people, but by the way he acts when alone.

The character designs by Hisashi Eguchi are amazing, the color palette used is unique, and the way the space is so simple yet so foreign really grabbed me. This was the only premiere out of all of these that I actually watched twice. I’m very interested in where this series will take me, and looking forward to hearing more of the OST since Shinichiro Watanabe is on as music advisor.

Love Live! Superstar!!

It’s a Love Live! with all it’s usual Love Live!-isms. Which is to say I’M LOVIN’ IT. There’s a lot more bursting out into song this time around, which I am a sucker for. This time, they don’t need to become idols to save a failing school – instead, the girls go to a school with a prestigious music program that views idols as “unworthy.” Instead of a school president arbitrarily banning idols, it’s a bit more grounded with the “these music kids are just snobs” angle. It should be fun, and judging by the first episode, it actually seems like a good intro series for anyone who wasn’t sold on the sillier previous series.

Kageki Shoujo!!

Well, dang. I watched the first two episodes of this earlier in the week, and thought it seemed interesting. We have another story that focuses on a failed idol, Ai, but instead of working at an aquarium, she’s joined Kouka, an elite school for the performing arts. Our other lead is the young Sarasa, who has also been accepted to Kouka despite being different from the usual snobby elites that the school enrolls.

At first, I figured the series would be an interesting look at performing arts, but I wasn’t expecting too much beyond a bit of schoolgirl drama. And then episode three hit, and the audience is introduced to poignant plotlines involving sexual harassment, eating disorders, and the general topic of young girls being abused by the entertainment industry. It doesn’t feel melodramatic or forced, either – I trust that this series will provide a nuanced look at the trauma of young girls. I hate to beat the dead horse of “Wonder Egg Priority had a disappointing ending,” but I’m thrilled to have a new series that seeks to examine society’s treatment of teenage girls, especially since the manga’s storyline leads me to believe that this will have more insightful things to say than Egg did in the end.

So, that’s what I have on my plate. I doubt I’ll actually keep up with all of these weekly, but I do plan to at least watch all the sequel shows. My line-up here is pretty light-hearted (well, except for Higurashi and Kageki Shoujo lol), so I think it should make for easy viewing. I can definitely see myself throwing Aquatope on after a long day of work and unwinding. More than likely I’ll watch all of Vanitas no Carte because some friends are group watching it, too.

Let me know if there are any big hitters I’ve missed, and I’ll either check them out now or end them to my never-ending backlog from hell ;P

5 thoughts on “Summer 2021: Anime Season First Impressions

    1. hahaha well I’m glad we’re on the same page at least! oh I thought of you the other day because Record of Ragnarok has a character named Adam who is always naked. I guess not really in a nudist way but more in the biblical allegory way, but still!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. You’re dead right about the current Love Live show.
    Definitely different to all the ones we have seen yet still feels attached to the title. How do they even manage that… hmm…?


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