Gather round, gang. It’s time once again to meet the new crowd of anime.
As a reminder, I watch every licensed premiere and do at least a brief writeup about them. I’ll do full meet ‘n’ greets for shows that caught my interest enough to warrant it. Everything else gets a blurb explaining what I liked, didn’t like, and why the show might not or didn’t make the cut.
Happy one-year anniversary to these Panning the Stream posts! The summer season has returned, and with it a slew of new titles. It also happens to be Fourth of July weekend here in the states, which means grilling and beering and other friend-related activities, so you’ll have to excuse me if these get posted a bit later than intended. But get posted they shall, starting with our first trio, which all managed to surprise me to more-or-less pleasant degrees. Hit the jump to shake hands with our first batch of new shows!
Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace
Original Series: Directed by Kishi Seiji and Uezu Makoto (Humanity Has Declined, Assassination Classroom), based on the mystery stories by Edogawa Rampo
Streaming On: Funimation (U.S./Canada)
In a Sentence: Middle school student Kobayashi wakes up at the site of his homeroom teacher’s murder and decides to join forces with young detective Akechi to solve the case.
How was it? Stylish and intriguing, if not a bit hamfisted at times
Seiji isn’t the most subtle of directors, but he has a flair for making his projects stand out from the pack in terms of color, angle, and imagery. Ranpo Kitan may not have the most understated visuals—for example, silhouettes on characters whom the young protagonist doesn’t find worth remembering—but it catches the eye and helps establish the MC’s own twisted perspective: What he notices, what he doesn’t, and why he’s the sort of person who finds a murder “fun” or “exciting” instead of traumatizing.
Seiji and Uezu are basically a matched pair at this point, and Uezu’s writing gels well with the director’s style: It draws you in and makes you think, even if it’s not as clever or layered as it wants to be. Either way, the story promises to be at least different from the usual suspects, a twisty murder mystery that’s as interested in the strange psychologies of its detectives as it is in unraveling the case. It’s caught my attention, so I’ll be giving it a trio of episodes to see if it can maintain that intrigue.
Classroom ☆ Crisis
Original Series: Directed by Nagasaki Kenji (Gundam Build Fighters) with series composition by Maruto Fumiaki (White Album 2)
Streaming On: Crunchyroll (North America, Central America, South America, United Kingdom, and Ireland)
In a Sentence: This scifi series follows a group of high school students who learn and work on Mars for a corporation that specializes in space travel.
How was it? Energetically paced with a large, likable cast and the promise of future conflict.
I’m not entirely sure what to say about this one yet other than that I enjoyed it more and more as the episode continued, and was ready to watch the next one by the time it had ended. Neither the director nor writer have helmed many projects at this point, but Gundam Build Fighters had a reputation for being infectiously fun, and White Album 2 was a solid YA romance. Which seem like dramatically different storytelling styles, but so far have combined into a brisk, character-driven scifi with maybe a few too many plot threads for a premiere, but enough charisma and spirit to pull it off and leave me wanting more.
The whole venture ended up being an extended prologue of sorts, with the real conflict appearing just as the episode concluded, so we’ll see how the story can build on itself from here. Right now, though, I see no reason why this one won’t earn at least a full three episodes to see where it wants to take its interstellar school story.
On the Fence
On paper, GATE looks like a trainwreck. A portal opens between a human world and a fantasy world, and the otaku protagonist gets sent through to explore the new territory? But, while there are strong signs in the opening credits that this could turn into a cliché harem mess at some point, so far they’ve managed to avoid a lot of pitfalls by making the MC a 33-year-old functioning adult who appears to be a decent guy (i.e., not a creep) and a competent member of the Japanese Self-Defense Force (JSDF). He also happens to be a giant nerd. And, you know, I can relate to that.
The main reason this isn’t getting a full meet ‘n’ greet is that the premise and execution didn’t make me want to come back and see what happens next. It wasn’t bad, it was just…well, “not bad,” I s’pose. I may pop in again to see if it manages to grab me, but it depends on how the rest of the season shakes out at this point.