While the snow is falling here in the Boston area, the Summer 2019 anime still linger in my mind. Some series took to the big waves; others drowned from muddled awfulness. Let’s look back and see which anime of the July-September roster shone with a beautiful tan, and which got sunburned to the point of hospitalization! (Writer’s note: reviews for O Maiden in Your Savage Season, Dr. STONE, given, Wasteful Days of High School Girls, and Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks? can be viewed via their respective links)
Hensuki: Are You Willing To Fall in Love With a Pervert, As Long As She’s A Cutie?
It has quite the risqué premise: a student finds a pair of panties attached to a love letter, beginning his quest to find his special Cinderella. However, all of the usual suspects have their own kinks and fetishes that keep them from being a fairy tale princess. Surprisingly, a great mixture of strong writing, off-the-rails comedy, and terrific voice acting make Hensuki one of the most enjoyable rom-coms of the past year. Even with an ending that may disappoint those waiting for that reveal, the tale of Keiki and the women who wish for his attention makes for some of the funniest and most fulfilling anime of the summer.
Hensuki can be viewed on FunimationNow, and has been licensed by Funimation.
American animator LeSean Thomas (Black Dynamite, The Legend of Korra) is one lucky guy. Taking his original comic idea and having Satelight (Heat Guy J) animate it, the story of an outlaw who can’t die and two robots looking for friends was a pure nostalgia-fest! Capturing the spirits of Cowboy Bebop and Trigun, this urban cowboy tale had loads of fun with its characters and settings. What’s more, when the action kicked up, the style it brought to the screen was something I hadn’t witnessed in a long time. Yes, the narrative got a little wonky, and the narrative is still incomplete as of this writing. With that being said, Cannon Busters was a terrific series that I hope more anime take a cue from visual-wise.
Cannon Busters can be viewed on Netflix.
How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift?
Leave it to Doga Kobo (Himouto! Umaru-chan) to get people excited to work out. Four students and a couple of their teachers aim to get fit at their local gym, fronted by the muscular Machio. A mixture of legit how-to exercises and misadventures to find suitable boyfriends, How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift? delivered massive laughs as it bench-pressed viewers with its cute characters and wacky scenarios. It also somehow shoehorned a valuable lesson about being healthy without the need of fat-shaming or talking down to both the girls and the audience. Dare I say, How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift? was more uplifting than I was going to give it credit for.
How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift? can be viewed on FunimationNow, and has been licensed by Funimation.
Astra Lost in Space
LERCHE (Magical Girl Raising Project, Asobi Asobase) is king of the twists in the anime realm. A story about a group of students being transported to the other side of the world gave way towards one of the biggest adventures since, well, the original Lost in Space! It’s hard to talk deeply about this anime without spoiling some of the biggest narrative aspects, but let’s just say that every episode of Astra Lost in Space left me gobsmacked with awe. Just try watching one episode at a time; you’ll have marathoned through its entirety before you know it!
Astra Lost in Space can be viewed on FunimationNow, and has been licensed by Funimation.
The Demon Girl Next Door
Poor Yuko has had a rough life living poverty. What’s worse: she’s somehow become a demon, and is forced to fight a magical girl. In the guise of Shamiko, she faces off against Momo, who winds up being a lot nicer to her than she thought she would. It has a lot of bumps in its narrative, but the sweetness and humor (not to mention Konomi Kohara’s adorable performance as Yuko) make The Demon Girl Next Door still worth experiencing. Ganbare, Shamiko!
The Demon Girl Next Door can be viewed on HIDIVE and VRV. It has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks.
The mastermind behind Soul Eater returns with a new shonen action series animated by David Production (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure). Fire Force has some of the most jaw-dropping action around, literally setting TV screens ablaze with its style. Sadly, its lackluster cast, unnecessary fan-service, and a plot that was done better in PROMARE keep it from become the next big series. Plus, it doesn’t help that Shinra and Arthur feel more like Beavis & Butt-Head than actual shonen heroes.
It’s the same old trick being constantly repeated. A girl wants to be the best magician in the world, but her stage fright messes up her illusions time and time again. Half of the time, Sempai’s antics are both cute and silly, with her reluctant Assistant tagging along for her embarrassing rides. Other times, it goes down some pretty perverted routes, which can feel forced at times. Oh well, at least Magical Sempai is still better than sitting though The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.
Are You Lost?
Four girls get stranded on an island, and are forced to survive until help comes. Are You Lost? has some legit good moments that teach about how to rough it up when stuck in a similar circumstance. However, it does find ways to fit in some pretty raunchy and shocking moments that will make you wince and wish you never saw again. (The saltwater enema, anyone?)
If It’s For My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat A Demon Lord
Call it a cuteness overload, as the tale of adventurer Dale and the demon girl Latina he adopts felt weird in a lot of areas. There are some genuine heartfelt moments scattered throughout, and there’s even some well-written tension. For some reason though, If It’s For My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat A Demon Lord just felt uncomfortable in places. (Maybe it’s because Dale winds up marrying Latina later in the light-novel series, which is incredibly creepy no matter how you try to spin it!)
To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts
MAPPA is usually really good with action series, as evident by this past year’s Dororo adaptation. But I don’t really know what it was about To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts that made the whole series feel...kinda bleh? It’s hard to describe why this alternate take on the Civil War — one filled with soldiers who can transform into monsters — just failed to grab hold of my attention. Perhaps it was the uneven narrative, or maybe it was how it tried to shove comedy into an unfunny scenario. Whatever it was, To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts couldn’t free itself from being just an uninspired anime through and through.
Any that we missed or neglected? Comment below to share your thoughts on the Summer 2019 Anime Season!
Promotional consideration provided by Ellation and HIDIVE