Summer Anime 2013 ~ Reviews ~ Part 1 [Watamote, Sunday Without God, Silver Spoon, Brothers Conflict, Free!]

Watamote [Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!]:

Social anxiety and awkwardness is something we can all pretty much relate to. Don’t lie. You know you’ve had your fair share of embarrassing moments, but here, Tomoko takes social awkwardness to a whole different level – forcing us to relive those tragic bleak moments of our lives, while allowing us to laugh at ourselves too. 

Watamote, short for “Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!,” which roughly translates to No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys Fault I’m Not Popular, is a rather self-explained title about a teenage girl just getting into high school, with deep social anxiety issues, and her delusional expectations of what a high school life should be like.

Obviously, the extremity of her awkwardness was mainly input for the sake of comedy and jokes. It’s hard to say whether there are people like Tomoko because, unlike most people, Tomoko seems to lack the ability to read or gauge the feeling or mood of a social situation. Maybe her ignorance is due to her long-time isolation. Maybe, instead of spending all that time watching anime and playing video games she should have spent it on extra-curricular activities. Or MAYBE, she’s just fine the way she is.

I don’t know about you guys, but I always thought high school kids were pretty weird to begin with. Or, it’s not that they’re weird, they just don’t have a firm grasp of who they are yet (plus, we are more easily influenced at that age). It’s just a part of growing up. We can either embrace our loneliness and awkwardness, or we can work to be a part of people’s lives. It all depends on the person and how they see it, I guess. However, the story doesn’t go out of its way to romanticize the idea that it gets better for Tomoko. If anything, her situation gets worse. But that’s what makes it funny . . . and also very dull. It works for Watamote, if you can accept that dark reality, but repetition gets boring. In my opinion, the comedy relieves its shortcomings a bit. Some jokes were gold, others didn’t fully nail them, yet, her inner struggles were so sad I couldn’t help but giggle.

Also, her relationship with her family was probably my favorite aspect of the show and a subject that I would like to touch upon. A lot of viewers seemed to have a problem with Tomoko’s parents’ “ignorance” and “insensitivity” towards her social anxiety. I, on the other hand, found it pretty hilarious. I mean, being a teenager goes hand in hand with feeling misunderstood, right? Especially by our parents! Isn’t that the whole point? Because if they’re anything like my parents, they would have just brushed her off as crazy and made her do chores (which they do at some point) – the answer to everything, apparently. And, in a way, it’s true how small accomplishments can go a long way to change our moods and minor depressions, similar to the way that exercise releases endorphins which causes us to feel good or happy. Unfortunately, being an otaku gets along with physical inactivity. However, I wouldn’t take it personally if family members were to ever show that sort of “carelessness.” It just means they have a different view on what they consider problematic and significant. When you think about it, social awkwardness is actually very insignificant compared to larger world problems and something that can be easily refined with constant human interaction or practice. Plus, Tomoko is still a freshman. Her journey of self-discovery has only just begun, and it’s a journey no one can take for her. Although, I doubt the author plans to stray away from the line of dark comedy anytime soon.

To sum up, Watamote is a “dark” comedy about a teenage girl, with very poor social skills, who is still struggling to find herself. The concept is really good, and I would recommend this series to anyone, though I personally wasn’t overly enthusiastic to watch it every week. [7.5/10] – C
Sunday Without God [Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi]:
“God created the world on Monday.
On Tuesday, he drew the line between Order and Chaos.
On Wednesday, he arranged each and every number.
On Thursday, he permitted the ebb and flow of Time.
On Friday, God explored every nook and cranny of the world.
On Saturday, he rested.
And on Sunday, God . . . forsook the world.”

Based on the light novels of the same name, Kaminai, short for “Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi,” engaged many viewers with that first episode, by introducing us to a world without God. This isn’t the first anime to touch on the “God” subject, but it is one of the very few “Kamisama” anime I’ve actually seen, and very easily did I depict their similar unwillingness to deconstruct or delve deeper into the premise of their stories – thus, unappealing many viewers. However, I thought the premise was interesting enough to disregard those minor plot-holes.

Kaminai follows a young girl named Ai. Due to God’s abandonment, the world can no longer die or reproduce. As a result, humanity turns to different means of living and new prejudices and mysteries are born. It isn’t until Ai’s encounter with a stranger named Hampnie Hambart, that she realizes her desire to “save the world,” which forces her on a journey to re-discover her own world.

So why did God abandon this world? There are many theories that the characters touch upon as to why God may have abandoned them, but the story doesn’t dig any deeper into the question. It just sort of happened. Instead, it focuses more on deconstructing the new world that is born from it – via Ai’s journey. The storyline can best be broken down into a series of arcs, as Ai attempts to help those she encounters throughout her journey – filling in the role as God’s messenger, in a way.

My favorite arc is probably the Ortus arc, but I believe each and every arc is enjoyable in its own way. Plus, the story touches on various concepts like “wishes” and “prayers” which I thought made the series really engaging. Also, it had some pretty good production values.

The series is animated by Madhouse and although there is a surprisingly low amount of head tilts 🙃😉😂, there is a lot of attention to the background – which results in some very beautiful scenery.

The music was also really good. It made the atmosphere, for the most part. My only complaint would have to be the large amount of one-dimensional characters. I would’ve appreciated a little more depth in their character. Even Ai, who is supposed to be the main protagonist of the story, suffers from a lack of depth.

Nevertheless, the best thing about Kaminai is its premise, which was my main reason for sticking around in the first place, so I can’t complain much.

I’d say the turning point for this series is episode three. You either love it or hate it, or find yourself crying by then. [7.9/10] – C+

Silver Spoon [Gin no Saji]:

Didn’t think I’d enjoy an anime about farming this much. Here is my review on what I thought was one of the best anime of this past summer.

“Gin no Saji”, or Silver Spoon, is based on the on-going manga of the same name. The story is about a teenage boy, named Hachiken, who enrolls in an agriculture school, on a whim, as a means to disconnect himself from his family. However, agricultural life proves to be too much for our city grown boy as he discovers the hardships and realities of farming.

Despite the seemingly realistic setting, the story is highly romanticized. The “hardships” and “realities” it entails doesn’t go any further than emphasizing: hard labor and Hachiken’s inner struggle to eat animals – a struggle I think we should all experience at least once in our life. Instead, it gives us a glimpse of farming within a very intimate, almost family-like, environment and shy’s away from touchy subjects like animal cruelty or the darker aspects of food processing. Then again, Japanese farming techniques may run under a different set of rules than that of the U.S., or any other country in the world (I doubt it). But knowing that it comes from Arakawa, Hiromu, the original creator of Fullmetal Alchemist, the series denotes a more cheerful and uplifting vibe. If you like Fullmetal Alchemist, then you can expect the same level of humor in Silver Spoon. The humor added a lot to my enjoyment of the anime. Hiromu does a pretty good job at balancing the drama and comedy aspects of the series. As for the author’s approach to the “realities” of farming in this series, who knows, maybe the manga goes a little deeper into the darker aspects of farming but, for now, I am content with Silver Spoon’s attempts to explore the more “moralistic” side of farming – via Hatchiken. Although, the story is a lot more light-hearted than I make it sound.

One of the great things about Silver Spoon is that it follows a city boy – who knows little to nothing about farming – and allows him to serve as a stand-in for the audience – who may also be disconnected from the rural lifestyle, thereby, allowing the audience to join in the experience as well. Moreover, the story doesn’t just stop at the moralistic sides of farming. Silver Spoon also takes the time to explore another of its main themes: “searching for a purpose in life” – something I think we can all relate to.

In addition, there was quite a large cast of like-able characters in the series, though I wish I got to see them develop more. Plus, there were hints of a possible romance that didn’t get its chance to develop into anything but a simple crush, so I would definitely appreciate another season. Nevertheless, if you grew up in or ever experienced the country side, you’re bound to find this pretty enjoyable. If not, I’m sure it makes for a rather educational experience. Although, I believe Hachiken’s struggles falls under a coming of age story that I would recommend to anyone.

As of late, there is no news about a second season, so I am contemplating whether I should read the manga and continue where the anime left off. Whatever the case, I am looking forward to a continuation of the series. [8.8/10] – B+
Brothers Conflict:

So many kyoudais. :3

I intended to watch Brothers Conflict alongside the rest of the summer anime, as it was currently airing, but decided to wait to marathon it instead. And I’m glad I did. After all, reverse harems tend to follow a very formulaic pattern, especially when it involves a story with a lot of male protagonists whose sole purpose is to woo the heroine. But if you know what you’re getting into and are ordinarily a fan of reverse harems, then the very simple premise and superficial characters shouldn’t affect your overall enjoyment of the series, too much. After all, who goes into reverse harems with a real plot in mind? I don’t. Honestly, I’m just in it for the good looking dudes. Plus, the anime has a catchy theme song, a cute animal, and a far more rational plot than that of Diabolik Lovers(IMO), which is currently airing at the moment. I really hope there is a second season to this because NATSUME!!!!!!!!!!! [7.7/10] – C+
Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club:
If you’re a girl, it is very likely that you will like this anime . . . or have already seen it. 😎
Unlike your typical hyped series, it is very rare for an anime to successfully bring a large community together, and do it quickly, like Free! did with the huge wave of fangirls. And considering females were the main contributors to the adaptation of the anime series, I think it made watching this anime this past summer, a little more special than any other series – for girls, at least. But I wouldn’t mind hearing from guys what they enjoyed about the anime as well. I personally, didn’t enjoy the anime as much as I thought I would. I honestly thought that it would adopt a more sports-centric theme, similar to that of Kuroko no Basket, and focus on the competitive nature of swimming. But I suppose it was naive of me to think that KyoAni would stray away from the “slice-of-life” genre that works so well for them, anytime soon. Nevertheless, it proved to be enjoyable in its own way.
Free! is a sports anime that follows a group of five boys: Haruka, Makoto, Nagisa, Rei, and Rin. The anime is an adaptation of the novel High Speed! But despite the swimming theme which appears to be the most prominent thing in the series, the competitive aspect was more of a subplot in the story. Instead, it focused more on the friendships between the main characters as it adapts into a more slice-of-life genre. However, the story did surprise me with the amount of drama it delivered. I thought it was really well done, except, it’s pretty weird to witness that from a group of guys who are constantly taking off their shirts (those first eps were hilarious). But that’s what made this anime delightfully humorous as well. For my first impressions of the series, click here.
Apart from its simple premise, Free! has a lot more to add to the viewer’s engagement in the series. The animation, for example, is always a visual treat when it’s animated by Kyoto Animation. They really outdid themselves this time with the water though. Every pool scene, or any scene concentrating around water, was simply gorgeous. I especially liked that they added so much depth to the characters’ eyes. Even the characters’ movements seemed very realistic.
In terms of character development, I think the character that underwent the most development was Rei, which was surprising, considering he was actually the newest member of the swim team to be recruited. Equally as surprising, was the fact that Haru, the main protagonist of the story, underwent little to no development – besides the fact that he has an obvious obsession with water. But I suppose it can be said that his little development is due to his quiet nature.
What’s more, Free! has a pretty decent soundtrack, although the more outstanding songs are definitely in its opening and ending themes (the ending in particular). Plus, the songs are both interpreted by the main cast’s seiyuus, which I thought was pretty cool.
In the end, I think Free! managed to fulfill its purpose: to deliver a great fan service to females. It is very rare to have an anime studio give our needs such special attention. KyoAni is so nice. 😌 [8.2/10] – B-
~ Part 2 is underway ~

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