This might seem like an odd choice for a list but I’m going to be honest, going into Summer 2017 there were only a few shows that on reading the synopsis made me want to try them and then most of those were unavailable to me. I did get to watch Elegant Yokai Apartment Life and it had the opposite problem of the write up makes it sound more fun that it is. So instead I got to just randomly sample shows that I went into expecting not to really like them very much and in some cases the results have been pleasantly surprising. That’s not to say these are the best shows I’m watching or the best on offer, only that they are actually more fun than I initially thought they would be.
Anyway, I’d love to know if there’s a show that has surprised you this Summer season by not being dreadful.
Please note: Probably only limited spoilers below.
Honourable mention this week to Princess Principal. Not only is it one of my favourite shows of the season, it is one that from the short synopsis I read and the character designs I was pretty positive I was going to drop, not because it sounded bad, but because it just didn’t sound or look like something I would enjoy. So glad I watched the first episode because it was great fun.
Number 5: 18if
After going to sleep like normal, Haruto Tsukishiro wakes up to discover something unbelievable—he’s stuck in dream world! Here, witches plague the dreamscape and are more than dreamy figments—they’re the trapped souls of young women who’ve rejected reality and are afflicted by the “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome.”
The above is the Crunchyroll synopsis and reading that it just screams that this is something to be avoided. Stuck in a dream world? Okay, here’s another chance for a writer to just be totally random for no reason. Oh, there are witches who are actually the trapped souls of young women? Suffering from a syndrome named after a fairy tale character. It all just seemed far too much like a desperate cry for attention and to be honest with each episode featuring a unique art style and tone you could be forgiven for thinking this entire story is just a project being made by an over-zealous art class full of students that all just want their turn at creating someone for Haruto to rescue. Despite that, it actually hasn’t been a bad watch. There’s been quite a bit of heart in some of the stories and there’s been enough cohesion with Haruto to carry us from story to story without too much confusion. Admittedly, this could still end very badly or not at all if they don’t bother to get to some sort of more definitive point before the season draws to a close.
Number 4: Gamers
“Would you like to be with me… in the Gamers Club?” Amano Keita is a perfectly mediocre loner with no particular distinguishing features other than his love for games. One day, his school’s prettiest girl and Gamer Club President Tendo Karen suddenly calls out to him. That moment changes Keita’s life forever, as he now finds himself in the midst of a romcom with beautiful girl gamers… or, well, that’s how it usually goes. Not with him, however.
As much as I like games and gaming, this anime didn’t exactly scream that it was something I wanted to watch. Everything about the synopsis is cliché and high school, club anime about loner boy getting targeted by the school’s ‘prettiest girl’ to join a club just didn’t seem like something I was going to get into. And the first episode more or less confirmed those fears and then it didn’t. Gamers managed to turn the trite and overused scenario on its head and admittedly it has marched us through a lot of tropes and clichés the way it manages to continue to defy audience expectations while remaining watchable is pretty amazing. The narrative is completely shot at this point because of all the twists they keep building in but it doesn’t really matter because I’m just caught up with these odd characters and their odd but charming interactions.
Number 3: Fastest Finger First
Bunzou High School is welcoming its new first-year students. One of them, Koshiyama Shiki, is chosen to participate against his will in an impromptu fast-buzzing quiz meet by the president of the Quiz Bowl Circle. As a quiet boy who loves reading and doesn’t want to stand out, Shiki is overwhelmed, but his classmate, Fukami Mari, is able to hit the buzzer and answer questions before the full question is given.
Once again, high school club with quiet boy getting dragged into things. What actually drew me to this one is that it was about quizzes and I really enjoy them so I ignored all my trepidations and took on the first episode. While I can’t say that this has truly defied any of my expectations, it is really quite watchable and mostly that is because of Koshiyama as the protagonist. He might be a quiet kid who doesn’t like standing out but there’s more to him than just that and he’s actually proving to be a reasonably well rounded protagonist. Does that make the show particularly good? Not really. Unless you like quizzes there really isn’t a lot to get into with the story. However, given what my initial thoughts were when reading that synopsis I’ve ended up finding this fairly okay.
Number 2: Clean Freak Aoyama-Kun
Aoyama kun is a hot, young soccer prodigy who plays midfielder for the National U-16 Soccer Team. But he’s also an extreme germaphobe! The TV anime adaptation of “Keppeki Danshi! Aoyama kun!” (Clean Freak!! Aoyama kun) portrays the friendships he forms and the challenges he overcomes in a “spotless” coming-of-age story!
Seriously? It is a story about a ‘hot’ soccer player who is a germaphobe and in case that isn’t enough to make your eyes roll right out your head at the sheer gimmicky nature of that match up we then get an incredibly tacky pun dropped into the synopsis just for fun. There was absolutely nothing about that write up that made this seem like it would appeal and to be honest, there’s nothing about the show that really should given its basically an episodic comedy that has a cast of overly zany characters that each seem to get one episode in the spotlight where their extreme dysfunction takes centre stage as we circle around Aoyama and then we move on. Despite that, I’ve been finding this anime oddly charming. Not every joke is a winner and some episodes are more tiresome than others, but overall, Aoyama has been kind of interesting and part of that is probably because despite the cheap jokes and gimmicks, for the most part it seems to respect people with conditions. There are a lot of tacky jokes in the series but Aoyama’s need to clean has for the most part been treated as a setting rather than the target of the humour.
Number 1: In Another World With My Smartphone
After dying as a result of God’s mistake, the main character finds himself in a parallel world, where he begins his second life. His only possessions are the body that God gave back to him and a smartphone that works even in this new world. As he meets all kinds of new people and forges new friendships, he ends up learning the secret to this world. He inherits the legacy of an ancient civilization and works together with the kings of some very laid-back countries on his carefree travels through this new world.
Right from the title you know what this show is giving you. It is another self-aware isekai story about an overpowered protagonist trapped in another world. Gimmick to throw in is he gets to take his phone with him and somehow it works. There’s really no reason at all this anime should have appealed to me and yet there’s just something about how it delivers its tropes that manages to entertain. It seldom crosses into overly cringe worthy territory and even though the last couple of episodes have started to become a little repetitive, due to Touya being all but an unstoppable force of nature at this point, there’s still plenty to make me smile about this show. Nope, it has no depth and it isn’t trying to actually make itself distinct or a satire on the genre or anything else. What it does is simply remember why these clichés became cliches and what makes them fun. It delivers lines that in most shows would all but be followed with a nudge to the audience to let us know that they are aware it is an overused line in an absolutely serious manner. Just as it delivers cloth dissolving slimes without a hint of shame. All and all, of all the shows I tried without really expecting anything from them, this one is the one I’ve ended up having the most fun with. Again, not exactly the best anime of the season but nowhere near as terrible as it could have been from that synopsis.
Over to you, which show this Summer did you find to be oddly not terrible after reading a synopsis that kind of made you wonder why you were even pressing play?
Thanks for reading.
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