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Summer Anime 2019 Staff Viewer’s Guide

Summer is bringing more than just sweltering temperatures and more excuses to get outside, it’s also bringing a plethora of hot new anime! This season is jam-packed sizzling shows and as always the GoombaStomp anime team is here to help give you the rundown.

(List in no particular order)

Fire Force

Studio: David Production
Director(s): Yuki Yase and Taiki Konno
Main Voice Actor(s): Gakuto Kajiwara (Shinra), Saeko Kamijou (Maki), Aoi Yuuki (Tamaki), Mao Ichimichi (Iris), Yuusuke Kobayashi (Arthur), Kazuya Nakai (Akitaru), Kenichi Suzumura (Takehisa)

One of the least represented careers in anime is undoubtedly firefighting. Atsushi Ohkubo’s unique take on the profession struck a chord with shounen manga fans everywhere, and its recent translation to anime by JoJo series vets David Productions is no less impressive. 

The plot is classic shounen with a dash of relatability. Fire Force takes place in a future where people have started spontaneously combusting and turning into flame creatures known as “Infernals.” No one knows how or why this phenomenon began, and everyone lives in fear of it happening to them or their loved ones at any time. To combat this new threat, special fire forces have been established to quell Infernals and keep the public safe.

Shinra, the main protagonist, is a third-generation pyrokinetic (a manipulator of fire) who opens the show by finally joining one of these elite firefighting teams. Shunned since he was little for grinning devilishly whenever he becomes nervous (and for other reasons I won’t spoil here), Shinra has a lot to prove to himself and anyone who used to know him. 

Fire Force moves between lighthearted firehouse shenanigans, heartfelt introspection, and beautifully-animated firefights with grace. Shinra’s tragic backstory never fully leaves the viewer’s mind, but the strong-yet-airheaded Maki and the childlike rivalry between Shinra and fellow new recruit Arthur give the show a fun comedic spin. The anime’s future might be up in the air at the moment, but what little we’ve seen has already shown great promise. (By Brent Middleton)

Rating: Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll (subbed) and Funimation (dubbed)

Dr. Stone

Studio: TMS Entertainment
Director(s): Shinya Iino
Voice Actors: Yuusuke Kobayashi (Senku), Makoto Furukawa (Taiju), Kana Ichinose (Yuzuriha)

I was fully prepared, unreasonably so, to hate Dr. Stone. The combination of Crunchyroll’s unusually aggressive advertising push for it and the main protagonist having the most punchable face in recent anime history rubbed me the wrong way even before knowing what the show is about. While Senku still has the most punchable face, I’m glad to say that Dr. Stone does somewhat live up to the hype.

An unknown phenomenon one day instantly turns all of humanity on Earth to stone. Millenia later, high schoolers Taiju and Senku are freed from their petrified prisons and find themselves in a land reclaimed by nature. Senku, being a super-genius, and Taiju, being a musclehead, team up to rebuild society.

It’s a setup rife with possibilities and it’s unclear as to what direction the story will go in yet. That’s made all the more so with how Dr. Stone presents itself as a shounen battle series without actually being one. Every character has some over-the-top, signature trait that would make them fit right at home in something like Hunter x Hunter. That makes them endearing to watch, though, which is important since the characters you see are literally all the characters in the entire show.

Science nerds will also be pleased, particularly chemists and physicists, as the principals Senku utilizes to rebuild society are all grounded in reality. There are some creative liberties taken here and there but for the most part it’s solid science.

Dr. Stone may not be the second coming of all that is holy for anime like Crunchyroll is playing it up to be, but it’s still a greatly entertaining adventure that has me wondering what will happen next. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll (subbed) and Funimation (dubbed).

How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift?

Studio: Doga Kobo
Director: Mitsue Yamazuki
Voice Actors: Ai Fairouz (Sakura), Sora Amamiya (Akemi), Kaito Ishikawa (Machio)

One of my favorite jokes to come out of Japan is muscular macho manliness. Whether it’s Jojo’s ridiculously excessive depiction of the male physique or the popularity of Billy “Aniki” Herrington, Japan has a fascination with bodybuilding that straddles the line between hilarity and genuine respect. How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? is a show built around that entire philosophy.

Hibiki Sakura, the main character of Dumbbells, has gained weight thanks to her poor diet and excessive eating habits. When confronted with the reality of her health, she reluctantly signs up at the nearby Silverman Gym. Here she meets a fellow classmate, Akemi Soryuin, who has also joined; together they work under their new trainer, Naruzo Machio. Thanks to both Akemi and Naruzo’s help, Hibiki vows to work hard and get her body in shape.

In the vein of Cells at Work! or Shokugeki no Soma, Dumbbells takes a specific topic and dives deep into the subject matter. While the show is ostensibly about “cute girls doing cute things”, Dumbbells manages to give weightlifting and exercise a good amount of respect. The characters make a point of exhibiting proper form and technique, which help both Hibiki and the viewer wrap their head around the work involved. 

Of course, as a CGDCT kind of show, Dumbbells is chock full of, well, cute girls. All of the characters are fun and bring their own little unique oddities to the gym. If you’ve spent time working out and have gone through the pains a diet change or muscle soreness, then Dumbbells will give you a good chuckle as it reminds you to hit them gains! (By Kyle Rogacion)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Funimation

A Certain Scientific Accelerator

Studio: J.C. Staff
Director: Nobuharu Kamanaka
Voice Actors: Nobuhiko Okamoto (Accelerator), Rina Hidaka (Last Order)

A testament to the importance of character, A Certain Scientific Accelerator proves how vital a decent main man is. Where A Certain Magical Index is spearheaded by Touma, a protagonist with all the likeability of Hitler’s wanking sock, Accelerator fits a more engaging anti-hero mold. Like A Certain Scientific Railgun, A Certain Scientific Accelerator works due to its utilization of (mostly) likable characters.

Accelerator’s been through the wringer, what with getting shot in the head and rescuing weird little clone girl Last Order. Enter Disciplinary Action, an antagonistic organization that threatens Accelerator and Last Order, our unlikely pairing of oddballs.

One’s mileage with A Certain Scientific Accelerator is relative to their tolerance for the ambitious but scattershot storytelling of this universe. If (like me) they find it flimsy and self-indulgent, A Certain Scientific Accelerator will come up short. But those more partial to the characteristics of this lofty series will find an abundance of enjoyment from the plight of Moody McGrumpo, the white-haired dude with a teen angst complex. (By Harry Morris)

Rating: Indifferent

Watch on Crunchyroll (subbed) and Funimation (dubbed).

Lord El-Melloi II Case Files {Rail Zeppelin} Grace Note

Studio: TROYCA
Director: Makoto Katou
Voice Actors: Daisuke Namikawa (Lord El-Melloi II), Reina Ueda (Gray), Inori Minase (Reines)

As the latest anime entry in the notorious Fate franchise, Case Files breaks tradition by being the first main timeline series to not have “Fate” in its name. It’s also the first to not center around a Holy Grail War and Servants, but instead on the inner workings of the mage society we only caught glimpses of through other series.

If that last paragraph sounded like something out of an esoteric tome then this probably isn’t a show for you. While Case Files is a clean break from the usual formula, it is still deeply rooted in Fate lore, particularly Fate/Zero, and thus doesn’t stop to explain many crucial concepts of the world such as the Root and Bounded Fields.

Those who are into Fate, for better or worse, will find Case Files a welcome departure, albeit a frenetic one. Waver turned Lord El-Melloi II now teaches Modern Magecraft lessons at the London Clocktower. While there he gets caught up in various magic-related incidents whereupon he uses his keen acumen to solve them.

Each episode so far has contained one “case” for El-Melloi to solve. The mere existence of magic making almost anything possible take the focus of the “howdunit” and shifts it onto the “whydunit” and that is what the viewer is asked to question as our instructor goes about his investigations. These episodes felt a bit rushed but hints of the overarching story beginning hopefully mean better pacing going forward.

Like any good Fate anime, the presentation is stellar with dazzling animation and mystifying music to complement its arcane nature. It’s just a shame newcomers won’t be able to fully enjoy it. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Recommended (For Fate fans)
Not Recommended (For newcomers)

Watch on Crunchyroll (subbed) and Funimation (dubbed)

Is it Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? II

Studio: J.C. Staff
Director: Hideki Tachibana
Voice Actors: Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Bell), Inori Minase (Hestia)

Hideki Tachibana and J.C. Staff had a lot to live up to following the four-year-long hiatus of the hyper-popular Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (more affectionately known as DanMachi). 2017’s Sword Oratoria spin-off was fun enough, but it felt paltry compared to the ambition of season one. Luckily, DanMachi’s return to the small screen truly feels like it never left. 

In fact, it’s startling just how quickly the new season hits the ground running. High off nearing Level 3 and being able to routinely traverse the middle stages of the dungeon, Bell refuses to back down when a member of a rival familia insults Hestia in a pub. Lines are crossed, a fight ensues, and before he knows it, Bell is suddenly in the sights of the spiteful (and incredibly creepy) god Apollo. 

The events of the first couple episodes set the stage for several major shakeups. How far will Apollo go to nab Bell for himself? What’ll become of Hestia and Bell’s tiny familia? And does Ais actually have more than a passing interest in our hero? Between the events that set all these questions into motion, there’s hardly any time wasted on reintroducing characters. There’s a handy “Episode 0” refresher, but you’ll definitely need to go back and re-watch season one to familiarize yourself with this vast cast once again. 

That said, the flashy battle scenes, awkward romances, and strong alliances forged from last season are all back in full force here. Any fans who’ve been waiting for years to see what happens to this colorful cast next are sure to be satisfied.  (By Brent Middleton)

Rating: Highly Recommended.

Watch on Crunchyroll.

Vinland Saga

Studio: Wit Studio
Director: Shuuhei Yabuta
Voice Actors: Shizuka Ishigama (Thorfinn), Naoya Uchida (Askeladd), Kenichiro Matsuda (Thors)

While anime and manga love to take Norse mythology and spin it on its head for various purposes, vikings have seen little such attention. That changes with Vinland Saga, which has thus far shown to be an enthralling story set do Ragnarok proud.

The first thing that immediately jumps out about the show is the fluid animation. Wit Studio’s experience animating the omnidirectional battles of Attack on Titan are put on full display in an opening battle sequence that employs numerous dynamic camera angles and long cuts. It’s easily the most stunning visual spectacle of the season so far and sets the stage for the kind of world we’re about to step foot in.

That world is one of survival, where even a semblance of peace titters on a precarious balance. The heroic warrior Thors escaped the battlefield to run away and raise his family in peace. His past eventually catches up to him, though, and he finds himself and his six year old son, Thorfinn, entangled in a war he doesn’t want to fight.

While Thorfinn is presented to be the protagonist of the series, the focus of the story is still on his father. He is the lynch pin that keeps everything from falling apart and there is a palpable sense of dread of something happening to him. These first three episodes have been an exercise in waiting for the other shoe to drop but the characters and world are already so well developed it’s difficult to not already feel pulled into the great expanse. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Amazon Prime Video

Magical Sempai

Studio: Liden Films
Director: Fumiaki Usui
Voice Actors: Kaede Hondo (Assistant), Aoi Ichikawa (Sempai)

Every season of anime inevitably has to have their cheesecake show, and Magical Sempai is this one’s. Clocking in at a little over twelve minutes, it wastes no time in getting to the real reason you’re watching this show: degeneracy.

Based on an existing gag manga, Magical Sempai follows the titular Senpai as she drags her unfortunate Assistant into joining her Magic Club at school. There’s just one thing: she absolutely sucks at it. She gets stage fright, she’s easily embarrassed, is extremely clumsy, and not terribly bright. Her antics oftentimes get her into sticky situations (figuratively and literally), much to the enjoyment of her Assistant (and the audience). This involves such predicaments as Senpai getting herself wrapped up in bondage, locking herself in a box, and losing all of her clothes in public.

There’s not much to the premise of Magical Sempai, but for a gag show there doesn’t really need to be. Much like Ueno-san of last winter’s season, Magical Sempai is a simple, straightforward show that gives you exactly what it says on the tin. The characters are fun, the jokes are cute, and the cheesecake is extremely cheesy. If you like slapstick gags and over-the-top fanservice, Magical Sempai is good for a quick laugh and some eyecandy. (By Kyle Rogacion)

Rating: Recommended (if you’re into that kinda stuff)

Watch on Crunchyroll.

Arifureta: From Common Place to World’s Strongest

Studio: Asread, White Fox
Director: Kinji yoshimoto
Voice Actors: Toshinari Fukamachi (Hajime), Yuuki Kuwahara (Yue)

One of the many isekai shows this season, Arifureta is a classic betrayal story mixed with power fantasy. Hajime and his classmates have been summoned to another world with MMO like elements. While exploring an underground labyrinth Hajime is betrayed by a jealous classmate causing him to fall down to the lower levels of the abyss where he has to fend for himself.

The story is about as by-the-books as an isekai can get with Hajime quickly growing stronger and gaining new powers by consuming the monsters he defeats. Arifureta’s one distinguishing trait is its tone which is filled with enough edge to make a razor blade blush. Hajime’s abrasive attitude is jarring and borders on unlikeable with his weapon of choice being guns adding to his excessive aesthetic.

This anime is dark, literally, with all three episodes taking place in the cavernous labyrinth; there isn’t a whole lot that’s eye-catching. Well, perhaps some of the monsters are eye-catching, but for the wrong reasons as they are made with some of the most atrocious use of CGI in recent memory.

There are worse isekai out there and at the very least I am interested to see just how overpowered Hajime becomes but if your time is limited, you can do better than Arifureta. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Indifferent

Watch on Funimation

If It’s for My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord

Studio: Maho Film
Director: Takeyuki Yanase
Voice Actors: Kanon Takao (Latina), Nobuhiko Okamoto (Dale)

There are few anime that perfectly telegraph their core appeal within the first five minutes as well as If It’s for My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord does. The show takes place in an otherworldly realm where those able to use magic are employed by the nobility to defend humanity against demonic attacks. One of the nation’s top adventurers, Dale, is finishing a job when he comes across a small devil child named Latina in the woods. Sensing that she’s defenseless and alone, Dale decides to bring her back to town and look after her for the time being. 

Unlike Poco’s Udon World or Sweetness and Lightening—both of which center around single father figures taking care of young children—the focus here is less on the bond between Dale and Latina and more on everyone’s infatuation with Latina herself. She’s cloyingly sweet to anyone she meets, always tries her best, and manages to delight even the most hardened adventurers. Dale quickly becomes a vessel that channels how the audience is expected to feel about the girl; he’s constantly overwhelmed by her cuteness, can’t stand to spend a moment away from her, and cries tears of joy whenever she misses him or proudly shows him what she’s accomplished for the day. 

Despite how If It’s for My Daughter is clearly pandering to a certain demographic, it’s hard to deny that it’s well-executed. Getting to see Latina develop her language and cooking skills before my eyes was some of the most lazily pleasant time I’ve spent watching an anime this year. Just know what you’re getting into first! (By Brent Middleton)

Rating: Recommended (for a very specific audience)

Watch on Crunchyroll

Do You Love You Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks?

Studio: J.C. Staff
Director: Yoshiaki Iwasaki
Voice Actors: Ai Kayano (Mamako)

Tis the season for show titles that take up the majority of Twitter’s character limit on their own, with Do You Love You Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks? taking the cake. 

This show is pandering to the highest degree but at the same time, it’s very upfront about what it is. If the concept of a high school boy getting sucked into a game world with his over doting mother — who is literally named Mamko — that looks like she could be 16 and is the most overpowered being in the world doesn’t appeal to you, then this show is probably going to do little to change your mind.

It’s nonsensical, it’s ludicrous, and it’s oh so ecchi. If you’re not immediately turned off by the incestuous nature of the premise, though, then you’ll find moments of decent to funny self-aware comedy. Our wayward son protagonist plays an entertaining straight man and the show doesn’t miss a moment to poke fun at the isekai genre as a whole.

The show’s audience is clear. If you’re part of that audience, have fun. If you’re not part of it, then move right along. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: You know who you are

Watch on Crunchyroll and Funimation

O Maidens in Your Savage Season

Studio: Lay-duce
Director: Masahiro Ando, Takurō Tsukada
Voice Actors: Hiyori Kono, Chika Anzai, Momo Asakura, Tomoyo Kurosawa, Sumire Uesaka

Teenagehood is awkward, thanks in large part to the fact that teenagers are boiling pots of hormones. O Maidens in Your Savage Season captures this period of adolescence from the perspective of a high school literature club and the five young girls that make it up. The central ideas behind the show are that of sex and sexuality, and it approaches them by placing them in context of main cast’s own personal dilemmas.

While the show centers around Kazusa Onodera, a meek young girl who discovers she’s in love with her childhood friend, O Maidens makes a point to establish its ensemble cast. It’s certainly a slow burn, as the first few episodes take the time to establish character personalities and future plot threads.

However, from the very beginning the show’s writing does an excellent job of helping it to stand out. Mari Okada, a prolific writer known for such works as Maquia and Anohana, grounds the cast in an utterly down-to-earth way that reminds you of what it felt like to be a teenager, unsure of yourself and your developing emotions.

O Maidens isn’t all drama, thankfully. There are some wonderful bits of comedy and clever wordplay that help to break the mood and give the show an endearing charm. The painful ignorance of the characters provides both heartfelt character drama and genuine laughter. O Maidens is a show where you want these girls to succeed, but you absolutely love seeing them flub and fluster along the way. (By Kyle Rogacion)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on VRV

The Ones Within

Studio: Silver Link.
Director: Shin Oonuma
Voice Actors: Daiki Yamashita (Akatsuki), Akari Kito (Karin), Kaori Nazuka (Yuzu)

In what could be described as a strange mix of Zero Escape, Danganronpa, and The World Ends With You all rolled up into one, The Ones Within aptly suffers from a bit of identity crisis. Its concept of trapping prominent Let’s Players in another world of some sort and streaming their every action to attract viewers is reasonable enough on paper, but a number of factors prevent the show from being anything more than occasional amusement.

While the show is meant to be a showcase of Let’s Players, it does very little to push forward the fact that these people are anything but eccentric individuals. These eccentrics fall into tired archetypes that do little to encourage emotional investment into them. This is accentuated by the odd pacing of the episodes in order to fit one Let’s Play challenge each. The rushed pacing results punchlines and climaxes to fall flat, especially considering the show can’t decide on what kind of tone it wants yet.

Not even the clearly Monokuma inspired alpaca-headed instigator for the games can save this show from being unmemorable at best and boring at worst. This is an easy pass this season. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Not Recommended

Watch on Funimation

Written By

Heralding from the rustic, old town of Los Angeles, California; Matthew now resides in Boston where he diligently researches the cure for cancer. In reality, though, he just wants to play games and watch anime, and likes talking about them way too much. A Nintendo/Sony hybrid fan with a soft-spot for RPG’s, he finds little beats sinking hours into an immersive game world. You can follow more of his work at his blog and budding YouTube channel below.

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