Summer 2015 – Virtually Every First Episode Retrospective

Here we go again. With preview week basically over (I’ll add the last couple if/when they show up), it’s time to run down every last goddamn show I’ve watched, including basically every full-length non-sequel premier of the season. That is a disturbing amount of anime, and so today you will be receiving a disturbing amount of High Quality Content. Not high quality anime, mind you, but certainly plenty of Content. Although actually, this season’s premiers largely turned out much less disappointing than I’d expected – there were disappointments and surprises, but the overall crop was fairly reasonable. That comes with a couple caveats, of course. First, there’s the plain that that first episodes lie – they trick you and torture you, stringing you along with one good idea and then collapsing into mediocrity. And second, while there were plenty of “good enough” shows, there were basically no highlights, and many of the reasonable shows are just “good for this genre.” So, like, I gave a three to Monster Musume and Actually, I Am…, but that’s a three harem and a three harem-romcom. Plenty of the shows I think are “generally fine” I will not actually be following – in fact, there’s a decent chance I only stick with the top three.

Anyway! I’ll run things down by broad category, and you can make your own judgments from there. LET’S GET TO IT.

Actually Recommendation-Worthy Anime

Gatchaman Crowds Insight: To the surprise of probably no one, the returning champion had the easy best premier of the season. And honestly, it wasn’t even the strongest premier! This episode felt kinda rambling and aimless, even though it packed in a lot of interesting information. But Gatchaman is back, and it’s just as full of compelling ideas as ever, and it looks like this season will be smartly and immediately pressing forward from its old themes, and not simply reiterating them. The question of How We People and How We Culture in the internet age isn’t solvable by any thirteen-episode cartoon, but Gatchaman is gonna do its best.

Gatchaman Crowds

Classroom Crisis: This one seems to be the first candidate for that aforementioned “first episodes lie” issue. Classroom Crisis’ premier was engaging and full of energy, but it also felt like the kind of pilot the show might not live up to. But as it stands, this show has a solid cast, some interesting internal conflicts, and a compelling core idea. High school scenarios have been done to death, and so have “super” high schools, but a high school of traditionally talented kids working as psuedo-engineers within an ominous corporate shell? I think there’s something there. We’ll have to see.

Classroom Crisis

Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers: Fun action is fun. Rokka had a very solid fight scene, some nice banter between the leads, and a unique psuedo-Mesoamerican aesthetic – this premier wasn’t Rage of Bahamut-level good, but it was close enough to make the comparison a reasonable one. Production is one of the easiest things to have fall apart, and even this first episode had a bit of a pacing issue, but it’s still the best action-adventure prospect at the moment. Worth a look.

Rokka no Yusha

Reasonable Genre Stuff

Gangsta: This one’s a mood piece more than anything – grizzled and slow-burning and full of dirty cops and deadly dames. It seems to be trying to bring a bit of the class of something like Bebop to the structure of something more like Black Lagoon, and the execution so far is about evenly hit and miss. I’m giving it another episode.


Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace: This one’s on noitaminA and based on classic novels, but it’s directed by Seiji Kishi, so, pluses and minuses. But the actual first episode was a solid page-turner, full of reasonable hooks and progressing at a good pace. Anime also just doesn’t get that many good mystery stories, and this seems like a solid one so far.

…wait, just watched the second episode. Not so sure anymore.

Ranpo Kitan

Overlord: This one I actually liked, even beyond just a “well, I guess it works for this genre” level, but it’s another one that seems like it might have been a deceptive premier. This first episode of one more trapped-in-an-MMO show rode basically on its smart evocation of the poignant mood specific to an old beloved world ending. Watching an MMO you’ve loved and spent time with friends in die is a strange feeling, and this episode really nailed that. But of course, the world actually isn’t dying, and so things could likely get much more mundane from here. But this episode was nice.


Semi-Reasonable Genre Stuff

Actually, I Am…: So yep, we’re already well into the “this is good for its genre” territory, with this one being an endearing throwback to old-school romcom shenanigans. The two leads have a strong chemistry, which is more important than basically anything else in these shows, and that’s basically all this one’s got going for it.

Jitsu wa Watashi wa

Himouto! Umaru-chan: This is one of those based-on-a-4koma-or-similar shows that so very easily fall apart over time, but the first episode was a good mix of hamster girl throwing tantrums about One Piece and hamster girl falling off of exercise balls. Apparently chibi teenagers being ridiculous people can be pretty funny!

Himouto! Umaru-chan

Ushio and Tora: And here we’ve got “good for an early 90s shounen action show.” MAPPA really did some work on this one, so if you’re in the mood for hot-blooded dudes with big hair yelling at demons, here ya go.

Ushio and Tora

Charlotte: New Jun Maeda show, but the first episode was alright. The lead’s a jerk, solid animation… losing… strength…


Monster Musume: Dear god, I liked the monster girl harem. What am I doing here. Is this my life now.

Monster Musume

Okay, only a few shows to go. I can do this.

Snow White with the Red Hair: Had hopes for this one, but the leads in this first episode felt like milquetoast and milquetoastette. A very beautiful articulation of a very typical story with none of the character hooks that can bring such stories to life. Hopefully they gain some texture over time.

Snow White with the Red Hair

GATE: My military-fetishizing harem fantasy adventure is wrong, as I expected.


Castle Town Dandelion: This show was intensely harmless, but also did nothing to recommend itself. If you want to watch a show about a big family with lame jokes and a silly premise, this is definitely a show that exists.

Castle Town Dandelion

Aoharu x Machinegun: Watch C3-bu, it’s a way better BB gun show than this one. Unless you’re specifically looking for cute boys. This show does have cute boys, but the animation is bad, so they’re sadly not as cute as they could be. C+ Cute Boys.

Aoharu x Machinegun

SCHOOL-LIVE!: Look, even if you’re going to make your show entirely reliant on a last-minute twist, you can’t just let the first 95% of your opening episode be utterly tedious. Hooks don’t work that way, anime. This is not complicated.


Burn It Down and Salt the Earth

Chaos Dragon: Urobuchi, what you do in your free time is your own business. Please stop consenting to let people turn your table scraps and grocery lists into full-length animated productions.

Chaos Dragon

Shimoneta: Gamergate Was Right, The Anime. The thought police are coming for your boob jokes.


Sky Wizards Academy: Congratulations, anime. Toast in mouth collision into boob grab into “you think I’m flat?!?” into “HENTAIII~!!!” We have arrived at the bad anime singularity. God help us all.

Sky Wizards Academy

28 thoughts on “Summer 2015 – Virtually Every First Episode Retrospective

    • I’ll probably give it another episode, since the first episode didn’t really reveal what the actual show’s plot will be like.

      • Due to red hair + shoujo + fantasy, a lot of people seemed to go into this expecting it to be basically Yona S2, but I think a much better comparison would be Crest of the Stars. I can see how the characters could feel a bit bland but otherwise the CotS-type thing (especially the competent, calm and collected main character pair) in an alternate-middle-age setting puts the show so far up my personal alley that I could make dirty jokes about it.

  1. As someone who’s read through all of Monster Musume, is it bad that I want you to follow it all season just to see your reactions?

    • Nope! I’m covering Gatchaman, Classroom Crisis, and, uh, Paranoia Agent. They’re trying a Classics thing this time.

      • It is cool that you are reviewing Paranoia Agent for ANN, but don’t you think that you might have trouble garnering an audience because this title is not streaming legally and the DVD’s are OOP?

        I already expressed this concern on ANN, but I hope you have success with your Paranoia Agent reviews.

  2. I think you’ll be disappointed with gangsta 2nd episode. The show turned into a weird shonen with very awkward fighting sequences and powerlevels.

    And Ranpo 2nd episode was quite a shift… I like the crazy but the story itself didn’t manage to engage me at all. It all felt way too disconnected to reason.. So I dropped it also.

    Gatcha was great but I hope the rest of the series wont be has messy, well the spirit is there has you said.

    So in the end I’m only watching your three top shows + Durarara! and giving a chance to Overlord 2nd episode (I agree with you on that one its premiere was charming).

    Yea it’s a weak season after all :/, prison school coming today probably won’t help.

  3. I was convinced ANN would give you Gatchaman, Classroom Crisis and Overlord. And you didn’t even get Overlord, so it looks like you got away easy this time :p

    I’m pinning my hopes on Classroom Crisis not falling apart, but the last show I had these hopes for was uh… Rolling Girls. Yeah. But this one seems a little more smartly written and well, less likely to crash and burn. Have faith!

  4. re: Shimoneta, this is the first paragraph of the first linked review:

    Over the years, Japan has become a dystopia where sexual language, dirty jokes, impure thoughts and impulses and, of course, pornography have all been outlawed. People wear collars to limit their speech, and the rule of law is carried out by a literal squad of morality police. Enter Okuma, a well-meaning kid indoctrinated into the system who’s about to have his mind blown by Ayame, also known as the sex terrorist Blue Snow, who shows up with a panty mask, armed with the kind of escort trading cards you usually see littering the ground in Las Vegas. Ayame works undercover as part of the school’s morality council, and only Okame knows her secret – and that’s the reason he’s been drafted into her crusade to bring perversion back to public life.

    And this translates into Gamergate was right? This reads to me like traditional conservative/Puritan villainry.

    • I too think it’s more aimed at typical puritan/moralizing conservative thought. Japan is a remarkably right-wing country and its censorship laws that Shimoneta satirizes come from that place, firmly in the “let’s keep our youth healthy and moral as in the times of old” camp. And a big part of the joke was how the complete repression of anything sexual leaves people actually clueless in dealing with it, which applies more to the US style “chastity” sex ed programs.
      Granted, this doesn’t make Shimoneta’s jokes more refined (though I’d argue the humour lies less in the crass dirty jokes and more in the way the girl delivers them without a single clue, just for the sake of doing it) but I think your political reading of it is a bit baseless (at least if we’re talking authorial intent, then of course anyone can read it like they want and even draw unintended meanings from it, including GGers, but that’s hardly the show’s fault).

  5. Seriously, why does so much anime bury the lede? I understand that animators should spend the majority of their education drawing, but shouldn’t they also learn basic storytelling?

    As one of my favorite showrunners once said, you should always try to reach the promise of the premise as soon as possible. The premise should be at least introduced by the end of the 1st act, and be fully into it by the end of the 2nd act at the very latest. (and here we’re talking about the 4-6 act structure of hour-long drama) If the plot absolutely won’t let you get to it before then, cheat with flashbacks or en media reas or thematic/character execution of the premise.

    Why does so much anime wait until the very end of the first episode to even begin to introduce how the rest of the show is supposed to go? Even Lord of the “Frodo waits for decades before the main plot” Rings gives us the premise at Bilbo’s party right at the beginning.

    (There’s also the origin pilot vs. the template pilot, and most networks generally prefer the latter because, you know, it will give them an actual indication of what the rest of the show will be like. But even origin pilots revolve around teaching us the premise.
    There is no world where the Big Twist Episode works as a pilot. They’re fundamentally stronger if character work has been laid down by preceding episodes, preferably seasons.)

  6. I think you’re spot on for most of these, but I’m going to have to disagree on Snow White and Gakkou. For Snow White it’s probably a matter of personal taste, since “strong heroine with attractive, noble love interest” is kind of my thing. I just hope the show is able to keep my interest; I found Yona pretty boring so all of the comparisons between the two are worrying me. As for Gakkou, I really enjoyed all the subtle hints throughout the episode, but I am worried that the cutesy banality is going to continue for the rest of the series; even with the darker psychological undertone, I can’t stomach the amount of blushing and squeaky voices the first episode hit me over the head with. I hope it pulls more of a Madoka and focuses solely on the darker content.
    Anyways, I look forward to your reviews! Hopefully Rokka and Classroom will continue to impress.

  7. I honestly don’t get the point of spending twenty minutes pretending to be one show and then going “haha joke’s on you, you were actually watching a completely different show.”

    Hopefully the zombie apocalypse show turns out to be a lot better than the generic moe slice-of-life show, though.

  8. I actually watched the first episode of Paranoia Agent a few months back, after watching all of Satoshi Kon’s other movies. I’d really recommend watching Perfect Blue, as you stated on Twitter, as its the closest in tone to this one.

    I didn’t continue watching Paranoia agent back then because I got caught up with other shows and blogging, but this season is sparse, so I will also pretend Paranoia Agent is a Summer Season show, and watch along weekly with you. I hear it is quite episodic, so this format might work pretty well.

    Also, I am glad you got both Gatchaman Crowds and Classroom Crisis, are you still assigned to cover the last few episodes of Nagato-Yuki chan?

  9. Mostly agreed, except for Classroom Crisis (well, with your score at least), and I’d put the Charlotte and Akagami a bit higher since i quite like them. Also, nice to see that when I compared the initial looks of Chaos Dragon to Akame ga Kill, I was actually giving it a lot more hopes than it should have gotten.

    For Classroom Crisis… I felt a lot things in the first episode was a little too forced. It seemed ‘natural’ to most people… but I’m an economic student. The way everything is done in the Kirishina Company? Yeah, that’s just bad management. Really, really bad management. So bad that I’m surprised of how big it is, as I’d expect the whole company to be thrown into hell already with that sort of management. If I open my books on management and business introduction plus advanced management training tape cassettes I got from dad, I could probably write a five page essay (at least) on how and why was its management wrong. There are many other ways they could have done it, but I just can’t buy it the way it was done. I like the name of the company though, as well as the MC’s characterization. The former reminds me of my favorite Perfect MC, Krishna, and the latter simply appeals to my pragmatic management preferences (although that sort of attitude should have gotten him… ah, “demoted due to several issues that might or might not be his responsibilities”.)

    It’s really just one of those things, where your personal experience and knowledge interferes with the ability to enjoy the show. Although how… boring and cliched the characters introduced felt to me also contributed to it (Stoic-chan reminds me too much of Inaho to comfort too).

  10. Game of Laplace’s second episode completely killed the show for me. Even if we interpret it as aiming to be “erotic grotesque nonsense” like someone says and not a mystery it displayed narrative incompetence of the highest level. Insta-dropped.

  11. As a reader of the Gangsta manga am pretty happy with the show so far. You’ll probably like it when it becomes a character study. Also there is nothing wrong with enjoying schlock like Monster Musume!

  12. Gate has a pretty decent start. But the manga goes into generic harem territory quickly… Wish this could’ve been as story with a bit of fanservice rather than fanservice with a bit of story.

    Gangsta – Is dark enough to keep me interested. It’ll be interesting to see how far they go for S1

    Monster Musume! – Its your typical harem ecchi comedy – just… well monsters. I’ll keep watching just because it is funny.

    Shimoneta – I’d give EP2 a shot just to make sure you need to break out the torch and gasoline. For the blatantly stupid premise of a show. The jokes had me going in this episode.

  13. Aww man, I was looking forward to seeing Prison School under a “?????” category. Seriously I’m still not over that show. I can’t figure out what it wants, or what it’s doing. I’m still not even sure if it was just a hallucination.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *