It’s a manga adaptation wonderland out here.
Despite spending my last month bouncing from city-to-city and house-to-house like a hyperactive jackalope, I managed to find a little time to watch some summer premieres and chat about them. Like I did last season, I’ve also linked to the full premiere reviews over at AniFem if you’d like to hear more in-depth thoughts from my teammates.
Here are my first impressions on what I’ve caught so far—let me know if I’m missing out on anything!
- Astra Lost in Space: A space survival story with a gender-balanced cast that seems prepared to give them all in-depth arcs, motivations, strengths, and weaknesses? Yeah, I’m here for that. I could’ve done without the skintight space suits, but at least they’re equal-opportunity (the abs detail struck me as particularly silly), and barring one iffy shot the camera hasn’t leered on anyone. As long as it develops its cast equally and gives them all time to shine, I’ll be sticking around for this one.
- given: This BL manga adaptation about young musicians was my favorite premiere of the season. The two leads have a charming dynamic and the story has the feel of a gentle slow-burn, focused more on gradual emotional connection than immediate sexual tension (although there is a bit of that, too). The jam session was fun to watch and the direction is excellent, with an active camera focusing on body language to express character. I can’t wait for more.
- O Maidens in Your Savage Season: It’s a teen sex dramedy based on a manga written by Mari Okada (of AnoHana and HisoMaso fame, among many, many others), so while I can’t guarantee it’ll be perfect or that I’ll even like it that much, it definitely won’t be boring. There’s a raw honesty about the pressures, expectations, and discomfort surrounding sex that I suspect will resonate with a lot of folks (self included), but where it will take those ideas is anyone’s guess. Bonus points if it actually addresses teen sexuality outside of cishet norms. It’s Okada, so there’s hope, at least.
- Vinland Saga: Temporarily on hold because fuck Amazon, but I did watch the first episode before the employee strike began and I plan to keep watching eventually. It’s so far a freshly contemporary take on historical fiction, using its viking premise to take an anti-slavery stance and explore the difference between healthy and toxic masculinity. As with every title on this “Guaranthreed” list, I’ve heard excellent things about the manga, so I’m looking forward to watching it play out on screen.
On the Fence
- Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks?: Maybe the most I laughed at any premiere this season, the blend of self-aware (but never smug) MMO parody humor and mother/son goofiness works a lot better than it should. There’s a good chance the joke will get stale quickly (and it could very easily slip into tired fanservice and harem tropes), but it endeared me enough for at least one more episode.
- Ensemble Stars!: A male idol show with some wonderful undercurrents of subversion and critique of the idol industry, along with some absurd humor (a music battle devolves into students whacking each other with guitars), but the show seems hesitant to really commit to these unique elements, papering them over with generic idol archetypes. Also, the female protag is Queen of the Sexy Lamps. It’s better on paper than in practice so far, but there’s enough potential here that I’ll give it the chance to woo me.
- GRANBELM: Magical girls in chibi-style mechas is a good enough hook to keep me around for at least one more. The “battle royale” style premise could devolve into suffering porn, but since it doesn’t seem like the girls actually die when they lose, I’m holding out hope it’ll be a show with serious stakes that doesn’t feel the need to go Full Grimdark in the process. We’ll see if its cast can endear me in the coming weeks.
- Isekai Cheat Magician: This is the bones of a good idea wearing the skin of a sack of potatoes. “A boy and a girl get summoned to another world to help save it” is exactly the kind of throwback isekai premise I’m here for. I’m also here for the boy and girl having a comfortable back-and-forth where the girl even snaps at the boy for trying to sacrifice himself to protect her, demanding instead a partnership of equals. But wow, is it miserably executed, with stiff, expressionless animation and bland vocal performances to match. There are personalities here, but they’re stifled beneath an uninspired production. I’ll just go rewatch some ‘90s isekai instead, thanks.
- Dr. STONE and Fire Force. I probably don’t have the energy to add Another Endless Shounen to my watchlist, but I’ll keep my ear to the ground and pop in if I hear exceptionally good things.
- I’d also like to give 7 Seeds on Netflix a try, despite the shoddy production values, since I’ve heard great things about the josei manga it’s based on. Just haven’t had time yet.
Sequels and Carryovers
While you could probably watch Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files (a.k.a. The Adventures of Detective Babysitter Waver Velvet) without any prior Fate knowledge, I’m considering it a sequel because Waver’s conflicts and motivations are so tightly linked to the events of Fate/Zero. I am absolutely adoring this show, by the way, so 100% planning to stick with it all season.
As for carryovers, Fruits Basket is continuing through the summer and I’ll be right there with it, tissues perpetually at the ready.
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