End-of-Month Rundown – July 2013

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The almost non-stop barrage of new Summer series made this July just breeze by. It’s not just quantity though; there’s quite a few quality shows and quite a few more that have an interesting quirk or quirks that keep us coming back.

Pretty much every genre is represented, and the shows are also diverse in “volume” – from the loud, bold, brash Gatchaman and Blood Lad to the quieter, calmer Uchoten Kazoku and Tamayura.

Covering fourteen series – the most since the first official season we covered – is proving both challenging and time-consuming, what with all the characters and terms and stories to keep track of. We’ve already dropped one.

Still,  the sheer volume of anime that has piqued and held our interest is a testament to the strength of the season as a whole, so it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to tackling in the weeks to come. Now, on to our rankings:

15. Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyou 5/12 (5.000) – The absurd premise was novel, but the animation is crude, the plotting is random and inconsistent, the supporting cast is horrid, and the little dog is abused too often for our tastes. Dropped

14. Danganronpa: The Animation 4/13 (6.750) – The many, many different character designs are charmingly over-the-top (aside from the intentionally dull lead), and the entire kill-or-be-killed (and don’t get caught!) premise is most entertaining. The use of non-red blood is a clever way to prevent blurry censoring. We really loathe that bear, though

13. The World God Only Knows III (Goddesses Arc) 4/13 (7.000) – How do you renew our interest in a rom-com in which the girls always lose all memory of falling in love with the guy? By restoring those girls’ memories…all at once. Seriously, that stunt has really breathed new life into the franchise, and Keima has never been busier and more driven

12. Love Lab 4/13 (6.750) – We were ready to pass this off as Kotoura-san with less drama and more screwball comedy, but it showed its dramatic chops in uniting the new-look student council leadership. Sayo is a welcome presence, keeping the straight man Riko – who’s hiding a big secret from her friends – off-balance

11. Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince 16/24  (7.000) – Ange is annoying, but we’re liking Izuru’s “transformation”, Amane’s quick rise, and the awesome space battles that sprout up every now and then

10. Servant x Service 4/-  (7.000) – Another nice slice-of-life from the makers of Working!!, this deals with a more mature environment (welfare office rather than restaurant) but the antics of the characters are no less zany. The continued presence of the girl with the permanent angry vein is troubling, but the developing romance between the plain girl and the flirty guy is an interesting one

9. Monogatari Series: 2nd Season – Nekomonogatari (Shiro) Arc 4/- (7.000) – This has started like all -monogataris start; at its own pace, with plenty of talking and fanservice. Consistently very good, but everything thus far has been set-up, and it has yet to elevate itself to “great” territory. Something needs to happen with that tiger

8. Blood Lad 4/12  (7.250) – Darker undertones about existence are generally overshadowed by the poppy comedy of a vampire trying to resurrect a human girl, fighting with his werewolf rival in the process. The latest episode brings his estranged siblings into the mix and gives us some of his tawdry backstory

7. Kimi no Iru Machi 3/- (7.333) – A great romantic drama unfolding that pits a guy’s idealized vision of his former lover against the real-life present day version of her that wants to maintain distance. Even with potential mates all around him, he remains committed to setting things right with who he considers his soul mate

6. Free! 4/12  (7.500) – Perhaps the perfect summer series for making you want to jump in a pool! We had some reservations about the male-dominated cast, but it’s turning out just fine. The two leads are a bit dull, but the supporting cast is strong and lively

5. Tamayura: More Aggressive 3/13  (8.000) – Definitely the most emotionally affecting Summer series, this continuation of ~hitotose~ features a Potte trying to be less wishy-washy and seeing her dreams through

4. To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S –  16/24  (8.000) – We’re surprised with Railgun’s strong second-half showing, as it’s just killing it with a new and improved Kamijou Touma on the scene. His encounter with Mikoto on the bridge in particular was phenomenally stirring stuff, Despite a massive supporting cast, he and Mikoto have gotten the lion’s share of screen time lately, which is as it should be

3. Stella Jogakuin Koutouka C3-bu 4/13  (8.250) – We kinda miss the earnest, good-natured fun of Girls un Panzer, but Gainax’s new girls-with-guns series is if anything a superior substitute with more attitude, better character design, and nifty combat set-up and execution. The latest episode introduced the notion that Yura’s imaginative daydreams are actually a product of her temporarily changing or merging worlds, Suzumiya-style, opening a whole new can of worms

2. Uchouten Kazoku 3/13  (8.333) – We predict this and Gatchaman to fight for the top spot all Summer. This is the quieter and more thoughtful of the two, an almost Royal Tannenbaum-y story about a once-powerful family brought low…only they’re shape-changing tanukis. The historic Kyoto backdrop is utterly gorgeous

1. Gatchaman Crowds 3/13  (8.333) – Gatchaman is highly-caffeinated, highly-addictive fun so far (small sample size, we know). It’s in a dead heat with Uchouten for best-looking series. The hyper lead girl should be annoying (and is, sometimes) but still manages to be both appealing and badass, and the GALAX social betterment system is a very current concept to explore

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