These aren't your typical high school rom-coms. Let The Hook show you what's to love about these new summer shows!
High school is an awkward time no matter what -- but the heroes of this week's featured anime have some especially difficult hurdles to overcome. Homework, dating, and social groups are all a nightmare. On the bright side, you probably never had to deal with crushes this weird or social groups this strictly defined. What's going on in the high schools of this summer's anime? We'll show you The Hook that'll get you watching.
My First Girlfriend Is a Gal
So if you're an anime fan and somehow not caught up on gal culture, just a quick rundown. "Gals" have been around since the 1970s, but really hit their peak right around the turn of the millennium. While "gal" can refer to a wide range of trendy styles, the modern usage tends to refer specifically to kogal: an often derogatory term for high school girls who alter their uniforms to be more revealing, and are believed to be overall more materialistic and promiscuous.
My First Girlfriend Is a Gal wastes no time in reminding us of that: awkward protagonist Junichi and his three hot mess friends are all feeling especially virginal and ignored as their classmates pair off into cute couples. His friends can't fathom why no one is interested in a bunch of guys spending school hours reading dirty magazines... but they are quickly enraptured with Yukana, a gal who takes Junichi to task in front of the class for one of his mags.
Junichi is volunteered to win her over for the sake of their little group, told that prostrating himself in front of her will be enough to make her his.
The Hook: It works... but not how he expected.
In the midst of a fanservice-laden show with some really crazy censorship, we see Yukana the character. She absolutely looks like a tough girl when she's facing front, but her moments of genuine humor, kindness, and self-doubt betray a character who's going to be infinitely more interesting than the situation she's currently in.
So why does Yukana accept Junichi? Is it really just because he amuses her? Or is there something else going on that we'll learn more about as the show progresses?
Who It It For: Honestly, if you just can't stand the sight of anime T&A or overall fanservice, you will likely be in some rough waters with this one. (If that's your jam, though, you'll feel right at home.) There's a story creeping out from under the fanservice, though. And it will be interesting to see where it goes. Make no mistake, though: if you're watching it, you're probably watching it specifically for Yukana and her story.
Classroom of the Elite
When the first episode of an anime series kicks off with a quote from Nietzsche, you know you're in for a wild ride.
Our hero is Kiyotaka Ayanokoji, a deadpan and disconnected new transfer to the Tokyo Metropolitan Advanced Nurturing School. Students of this academy never leave campus for their entire three years there, but everything they could ever want or need is available. Shops for necessities, games, clothes, and even movie theaters and karaoke are part of the complex. And on their first day at the school, each of them receives 100,000 points, each point equal to 1 yen and spendable like money.
Kiyotaka is befriended by the outgoing Kikyou and in a barely tolerant acquaintanceship with student council president Suzune. He's also extremely skeptical about the way the school is run. As students enjoy their campus life -- spending their free money and slacking off in class without being punished -- Kiyotaka spends only what he needs and quietly observes his classmates.
After all, there's no way there's not a catch.
The Hook: The students may not be punished for not coming to class, but they are still rated on the down-low on merit. Those points? That's where the reward and punishment comes in. So when the class at large doesn't pay attention and spends their free points away, things get real pretty quickly.
Who Is It For: The show kicks off with a discussion of altruism vs. personal gain, if that gives you any idea. It's not wall-to-wall philosophy, and has a fairly standard pacing of plot progression. But this series looks to be an exercise in character development and dissecting motives. If you're looking for a slightly "meatier" show this summer, this might do it for you.
Kara Dennison is responsible for multiple webcomics, blogs and runs interviews for (Re)Generation Who and PotterVerse, and is half the creative team behind the OEL light novel series Owl's Flower. She blogs at karadennison.com and tweets @RubyCosmos.