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Nick's Picks for Summer 2017

Today we'll be exploring some of my top shows of the new season!

Hey all, and welcome to Why It Works! The summer season’s in full swing now, and though there are still a couple shows durdling around waiting to arrive, it’s high time to pick some new favorites. But how do you choose what to watch within a sea of new anime? You can’t possibly watch every new premiere, and a synopsis can only tell you so much. In truth, new anime is pretty much a giant burden.


Fortunately, I actually did watch every new premiere, and so will be continuing my tradition of highlighting a few new stars. Let’s find out what the summer brings!


First off, I have to admit, this season is pretty light when it comes to strong action shows. My Hero Academia is continuing, and I certainly recommend that if you haven’t checked it out already, but if you’re looking for more action, there’s no show I’d unconditionally recommend. Instead, I’ll offer three shows I conditionally recommend, based on your own genre preferences.


knightsandmagic


If you’re a big fan of isekai “trapped in another world” shows or giant robots, I’d give Knight’s & Magic a shot. The show hews pretty closely to the conventions of that genre, but it’s very good looking, and has a nice sense of energy to it. If you’re in the mood for an adventure road trip, then I’d check out Saiyuki Reload Blast. Though this is ostensibly a continuing series, you don’t really need any of the context of the prior material to get into this one - it’s basically “group of stylish dudes go on a demon-hunting adventure that sits somewhere between a cowboy western and the actual Journey to the West.” Finally, if you like your action a little dark and over-the-top, Chronos Ruler offers a dude who fights time-eating monsters with playing cards. Anime is magical.


Moving on, one of my highlights of the season so far is easily A Centaur’s Life, which mixes monster girls and social commentary in a charming slice of life frame. A Centaur’s Life takes a more grounded approach to monster girls both in its storytelling and its worldbuilding. We’re slowly introduced to protagonists Hime and Nozomi through the context of a school play, where Hime’s centaur body ends up causing some dramatic stage prop issues. That story naturally leads into conversations touching on discrimination and differing concepts of equality, all while the focus remains on celebrating the strange everyday life of this monstrous land. Whether you’re intrigued by its unique premise or just looking for a strong slice of life show, A Centaur’s Life is a winner.

 

restauranttoanotherworld


Next up, Restaurant to Another World offers one of the more unique stabs at an isekai show I’ve seen yet. Instead of carrying his knowledge or cellphone or anything else with him, Restaurant’s head chef brings his whole dining establishment, offering curry rice and beef stew to dwarves and dragons and all creatures in between. The show is comfy, creative, and very funny, and its restaurant locale means there’s plenty of food porn, too. I’d definitely give it a look.


Coming up next, Magical Circle Guruguru was my favorite dedicated comedy of the season, and just a really fun show all around. The show feels almost like a time-shifted relic of the ‘90s, riffing on 16-bit JRPG conventions in a variety of funny ways. Its simplified character art belies the fact that it’s actually very visually creative - not only is its cast expressive and lovingly animated, but it also constantly plays with the fact that it’s messing with pixelated storytelling conventions in all sorts of clever ways. On top of that, its two stars Nike and Kukuri are absolutely charming, expressing themselves as multifaceted and endearing characters even within the first episode. I’m guessing this one might fly under the radar on look alone, but I’d urge you to give it a shot.

 

classroomoftheelite


Finally, Classroom of the Elite pulled off one of the most interesting premieres of the season, offering a show somewhere between My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU and, I dunno, an economic Battle Royale. The first half leans heavily on SNAFU-style social commentary, with lead loner Ayanokoji offering jaded and flavorful reflections on the nature of high school. This eventually gives way to a story about how we’re all commodified by society, and how even high schoolers must compete to prove their worth supporting our materialistic, meritocratic world. It’s a unique show that could really go places, and I look forward to seeing how it all plays out.


That’s all from me, though of course there are still plenty of other shows worth watching. Heck, if you’re interested in shorts, Tsuredure Children may well end up being my favorite show of the season, offering the most charming romantic shenanigans imaginable. It turns out I lied about new anime being a burden - rushing through a new season is always a great time. Good luck finding something new to love!

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Nick Creamer has been writing about cartoons for too many years now, and is always ready to cry about Madoka. You can find more of his work at his blog Wrong Every Time, or follow him on Twitter.

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