Luke’s Summer 2013 Anime Picks

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The Summer 2013 anime season is here and like I did previously for Winter 2013 and Spring 2013, I will be detailing my top picks for Summer 2013.  After trawling through the expansive list of series that have premiered this season, looking far and wide for something to wow me, I found myself pleasantly surprised by a multitude of series. For a season that from the outlook appeared to be unimpressive, I am undoubtedly impressed. Without further adieu, these are the series that I will be watching this season of anime.

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Uchoten Kazoku
This is a series that was not even remotely on my radar. Uchoten Kazoku, known as Eccentric Family in English, is a bizarre series to say the very least. It is the brainchild of Tomihiko Morimi the creator of the also bizarre series The Tatami Galaxy. While Tatami Galaxy was far more experimental than Uchoten Kazoku, this series has its own unique identity, making for what feels unlike anything the anime medium has ever seen.

Now I’m a firm believer that different isn’t always good as was evidenced in the attrocious adaptation of Aku no Hana. But what we have here in Uchoten Kazoku is a series that makes its oddities work through pure heart and charm. P.A. Works are committed to the series and have a clear affection for Morimi’s work that shows in every passing scene.

The series content is rather difficult to describe, being something that is ultimately best experienced first-hand. With a deep-rooted heart in the importance of family, Uchoten Kazoku takes its bizarre concepts of transforming tanooki and tengu and gives it a sense of humanity that anyone can relate to.

At only a few episodes in, this is one series that is difficult to pin down. It could soar to unprecedented heights and become the biggest surprise of 2013 or it could all fall apart. It is a tightrope walk for Uchoten Kazoku. Can the series balance its more outlandish ideas with sincerity and humanity? I believe it can. For that, I plan on tuning in to this series with eager eyes, each and every week of Summer.

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Blood Lad
This was the only series that really stood out to me from the get go. It is an adaptation of a shonen battle comedy with a fun concept and a great studio behind it. There wasn’t really a way that Blood Lad could go wrong. Well so far, so good. The verdict is still out though as the series has since been confirmed for an unusually short run of a mere 10 episodes. Whether they can work magic in 10 episodes remains to be seen, but if these initial few episodes are anything to go by then Blood Lad is in good hands.

The series has been consistently fun since the very first episode and features a great cast of characters that are well defined from top to bottom. There is a sense that the world is far bigger than what we see in any given episode and there is definitely more to these characters than we are being told.

The comedy is ripe with otaku-ready referential humour which is sure to hit just the right note for the series’ target audience. The story is about a vampire otaku for christ’s sake, that concept alone will get most people in hook-line-and-sinker. But what makes Blood Lad so good is its execution. The entire production is done so well, that you just can’t help but be swept up in this quality anime. Blood Lad is simply great quality fun and that is something I could do with to kick-off my week.

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Gatchaman Crowds
This anime is just too damn good. It almost feels like Gatchaman Crowds is cheating, it is that good. How can a series star such an over-the-top genki school girl such as Crowd’s protagonist Hajime and not make her completely irritating? On top of that, how in god’s name did they make her such an endearing character? How did they make such a well-defined and colourful cast of characters yet only giving them all very minimal background and next to no real substantial dialogue? How does it happen so good for this series? Gatchaman Crowds make this look so easy.

There is certainly something special with Gatchaman Crowds and it may very well have to do with the man helming the project, the eccentric Kenji Nakamura, the brain behind Tsuritama and C – The Possibility of Money and Control. Nakamura is a unique mind to say the very least and he has taken the Gatchaman series and stripped away just about everything that made Gatchaman what it was and slapped into something entirely different. He took a classic series and left it barely recognizable, yet it is still oh so good. Again, Nakamura makes this look easy.

So why is Gatchaman Crowds so good? Well it is hard to put a finger on it, with only the first few episodes having aired, but it really all comes down to sincerity. At its core, Gatchaman Crowds is a series that feels sincere. It believes in all of its crazy and it is that commitment and sincerity that makes something that in anyone elses hands would be rubbish into something truly remarkable. I’ll be following Gatchaman Crowds with great anticipation, there is something special happening with this series and I can’t wait to find out what that special thing is.

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Watamote
There was without a doubt a lot of anticipation surrounding Watamote. The source material is very popular and as such many eyes were on the anime adaptation as it debuted this season. Having no previous experience with the series, I went in blind and came out unsure what exactly I was supposed to feel about Watamote. I got the sense it was a comedy, but so much of the show’s content hit quite close to home for me, leaving me feeling more sad than anything.

Watching Watamote isn’t exactly something I’d say that I enjoy doing. It is more a series I find compelling on a deeply personal level. I have felt the anxiety and pain she has felt and it proves to be a very reflective experience for me personally, much like I’m sure many others who watch the series feel.

The deeper the series dives into her condition, the more pain I feel for both her and anyone in her situation today. Depression is a terrible thing and I get the feeling it is something the original creator has dealt with first hand. Watamote is a truly thought-provoking comedy (if you’d call it a comedy). The series handles the topic of depression with a hopeful heart and makes for a truly fascinating viewing experience. I hope that Tomoko can find some happiness in her world and I’ll be sticking with Watamote in hope of seeing that come to fruition.

 

Honorable Mentions: High School DxD New, Silver Spoon and Servant x Service

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