Life’s getting a bit much so here’re a couple of quick impressions for two very different, but “interesting” shows.
Airing on: Amazon Prime
My impressions: I was recommended this by Thatsmapizza so this is me trying it. The opening sequence of a couple of ladies diving underwater was really cool and I was immediately interested in watching an anime about, well, diving underwater! Except the first episode was anything but diving.
Serving as an introduction to the characters and the world is a monumental task for a premiere, and personally, “Grand Blue Dreaming” flounders hard in this regard (pun intended). While it’s always refreshing to see adult characters, their scenarios are very much the type of adulthood that I have a very strong distaste for (e.g. heavy partying and drinking). Yes, it may be par for the course for characters who are 20, but the majority of the episode was dominated with alcohol and peer pressure into drinking, so much so that there’s a warning at the start of the episode about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption.
It’s a shame because the art is really quite lovely to look at! Most of the time, the backgrounds are rendered like a watercolor painting (close ups have the backgrounds being rendered in solid colors) and the characters are animated well. The men are...very nice...to look at, as are the ladies as well (though the giant anime eyes felt more distracting compared to other shows). The opening theme is a very strong summer opening that seems to hint that the show is going to move into more diving soon, which is what I initially hoped for.
The comedic elements are a bit hit or miss, depending on your personal tastes. I liked the running gag about combustible drinks, but Iori asking people for their clothes? No thank you. The hyper-exaggerated facial gestures were quite charming and hilarious to look at when they were first used at the start of the episode, but it was repeated so often that it was very much a case of “too much of a good thing.” The angle of “romance between cousins” maybe a bit dodgy, but it definitely paled in comparison to the excessive peer pressure and drinking present in the episode.
Verdict: B+. Rating it relatively high because of the lovely art direction and animation, but the subject matter in the episode was a serious turn off, especially because there was a serious lack of diving. It’s a very fun summer anime though, so give it a shot if you’re looking for something light hearted with an older cast. I do believe ShadowHaken is discussing this show each week, so keep an eye out for it!
Airing on: Amazon Prime
My impressions: So...that happened. Unlike shows like “School-Live!” which tries to play its false premise for as long as it can before pulling the rug from out under the viewer, “Happy Sugar Life” plays its ‘something is off’ card in its opening sequence and subsequent theme song. Of course, the show still continues to be as sugary as possible for the first half, though there are a few details in the dialogue that aren’t very commonplace in anime (the heroine’s friend says “let’s fool around with guys again together”, definitely not something you hear in anime with a cutesy aesthetic a lot). Aside from the whole “high school girl is taking care of and in love with a 10 year old” thing, the first half is...quite plain.
Then the show starts to take off its mask.
A creepy “adult woman seemingly taking advantage of a young boy” moment here, a lot of bullying scenes there, and the veneer starts to come off. Things go off the rails when Sato, the heroine, confronts her boss in the office and she seemingly goes full “outsmarting you at each turn,” with added deadpan eyes. Then there’s the closet and the last reveal and oh for &@%#’s sake what the hell.
This show is one of those psychological horror anime with a cutesy aesthetic masking its nature. The music definitely helps to set its scenes and drill up the tension, while the directorial choices also help to elevate the sense of dread that permeate the creepier scenes. Aesthetically, the show is...alright. I like that the characters are rendered in a soft palette compared to the backgrounds as it gives them an illusionary feeling, but it definitely isn’t the strongest production this season, especially when compared with the other shows I wrote about. There’s one scene where a character’s head looked way too small for his body, which was unintentionally horrific. However, unlike “Grand Blue Dreaming” or “Overlord season 3,” I have a stronger sense of direction of where this show is going to go.
Verdict: B. The animation quality definitely pulls my grade down, but it has a clearer direction than the other B+ shows. “Happy Sugar Life” is very much an acquired genre; if you like psychological horror with a layer of cute over it, then give it a shot. Otherwise, steer clear.
Moving forward, I’ll be writing about Overlord season 3 and Banana Fish each week (if Banana Fish ep 2 isn’t done on time, I’ll put it together with ep 3). Look forward to them!