Summer 2017 Anime Hits, Maybes And Misses: 18if, Elegant Yokai Apartment Life And Saiyuki Reload Blast

What's in your queue?
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A screen from Saiyuki Reload Blast episode 1. (c) Platinum Vision

The summer 2017 anime season is now well underway, which means it’s no longer time for episode 1 reviews. Now that we’re four, five, even six episodes into these shows, it’s time to judge. Did Made in Abyss brilliant episode 1 presage a sudden, sharp decline? Did the terrible first episode of Vatican Miracle Examiners somehow lift itself up from disgrace? Did the promising episode 1 of Elegant Yokai Apartment Life live up to what it could be?

Let’s find out by assigning each show a verdict: “Hit” for the top-tier shows and conversation starters, “Maybe” for fun shows that you can live without if you haven’t got the time or it’s not to your taste, and “Miss” for the shows you just don’t need on your queue.

18if

via GIPHY

VERDICT: MAYBE

I didn’t review episode one of 18if, but I did find myself bingeing it. It takes place largely in dreamscapes with a hero who episodically rescues neurotic girls from their problems as they lie in hospital beds, struck with Sleeping Beauty Syndrome. It’s a weird show. Our main character, Haruto, has rough, surly edges, but enough heart to help these traumatized girls move on.

If a boy repeatedly being the valiant Prince to a bunch of helpless Sleeping Beauties strikes you as rather passe in this day and age, I get it. But I can look past execution problems to see the vision 18if was chasing after, and I love the dream tech guy who appears as a cat detective in dreams. I even like our hero, even though I object to the show’s premise. (Ah yes, this girl so traumatized by the pressure to conform that she fell into a coma where she could do whatever she wanted in a dream world just needed a random boy to tell her, “Hey, let loose! I’ll hang out with you!” Just what all these girls need: a boy to fix them, validate them, notice them. That’ll do.)

For my part, I like the dreamscape premise, the execution isn’t so awful it’s entirely off-putting, and I want to find out what’s going on with our hero. I also enjoy the predictable drama of afterschool specials and like guessing what’s going on with each witch. But objectively, you can skip 18if without missing too much.  

Elegant Yokai Apartment Life

via GIPHY

VERDICT: MAYBE

Elegant Yokai Apartment Life took a premiere I was only tepidly interested in and made it into a strangely heartwarming show where aspects of the supernatural are used to reinforce the relationships between people (and other beings). We get to meet a slew of attractive, psychically-linked, possibly-human residents of the yokai building whose varied character quirks and designs make them a lively lot.  

The production values aren’t going to blow anyone away (a couple cheap backgrounds, still frames and even still characters here and there), but the show has an endearing setup with long legs for both comedy and drama, which it has demonstrated bounteously. In one episode our main character, Inaba, discovers a talent for psychic healing; in another, he learns of another apartment resident’s tragic backstory.  

He also struggles to cope with the death of his parents and has a hard time straddling both the normal and spiritual worlds. His grief is touching and the effect it’s had on his personality and life is understandable.

This show turned out better than I thought, but it appears to have met a cold reception. You can miss it if you haven’t got the time, but if you’re a sucker for stories about the supernatural, especially the Japanese supernatural, you’ll probably like it.

Saiyuki Reload Blast

via GIPHY

VERDICT: MAYBE

If you like Saiyuki , you’ll like this show as it gives you more of the same. The episodic formula of Sanzo-tachi’s Journey to the West has not been altered, and that’s a damned successful formula. We even get to enjoy Saiyuki Gaiden, Team Sanzo’s tearjerking backstory, for the umpteenth time. That sounds snarky, but it’s not: I love every remix of Saiyuki Gaiden, and even Saiyuki Reload Blast’s weird color grading and shaky cam doesn’t impact my enjoyment of that arc.

If you haven’t seen Saiyuki but are interested in hopping on board, you could certainly watch this anime first without getting too confused. Four guys, on a journey, to the West: not hard to follow. But if you’re struggling to keep up, just watch Gensomaden Saiyuki from spring 2000. It’s visually superior and gives loads more of the background teased in the Saiyuki Reload Blast opening theme.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this anime stands sturdily enough on its own merits to merit a watch, but Saiyuki fans will enjoy it.

Is there an anime not on this list that we should all be giving a shot? What’s the state of your anime queue? What are you watching faithfully each week? What do you plan to ignore? Are you really mad at my terrible choices or are you relieved someone finally said it? Turn on your location, I just want to talk. Follow me on Twitter at @ndmedinaaa , follow us at @PlayerDotOne and feel free to chat about the current anime season in the comments section below.

 

 

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