Dr. Stone, I presume?
Summer anime 2019 is officially a post-basement-reveal world. Summer is a post-Diavolo world. A post-Rising of Shield Hero world! A post-One Punch Man season 2 world! We’re now a few weeks into summer 2019 and I’ve been looking forward to this season ever since I heard about a few anime announcements around last year that I’ll get into down below.
Some anime worth watching are continuing, like Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba or Fruits Basket. Hell, even Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? has returned with its second season after years of seeing Crunchyroll shill tie-ins and crossovers featuring Danmachi. There’s quite a few new anime that are spin-offs from their source, like A Certain Scientific Accelerator or even The Case Files of Lord El-Melloi II. But the core of this season is all about some really anticipated anime from some good-ass manga. So we should start with the hottest one, and pardon the wordplay.
If you remember Soul Eater, you’re probably flashing back to that with some distinctive character design like Shinra Kasukabe, the skull motif, and the really detailed but busy cityscapes. Fire Force centers around the dangerous phenomena of spontaneous human combustion, only instead of dying, victims turn into flaming demons. It’s up to the Fire Force – a combination of firefighters, soldiers, and religious missionaries –, to defeat these infernals and lay their souls to rest while unraveling the mystery of spontaneous human combustion.
While I got through several volumes of the manga, I never would’ve expected the direction and composition of so many great shots thanks to everyone’s favorite JoJo factory, David Production. You’ll see their penchant for bold color direction in many shots, from an overwhelmingly blue sky as a backdrop against character conversation, to the subtle glow of characters’ colored eyes as they utilize their innate pyrokinetic powers to fight against the infernals. Both in and out of a raging inferno, Fire Force is already establishing that it’s going to be a real looker.
When Dr. Stone first arrived in Shounen Jump, it established itself as a sort of battle manga without actual battles, sharing space with the likes of Death Note for incredible stories that barely have a punch being thrown.
Nearly 3,000 years after humanity was turned to stone from a mysterious, Earth-engulfing light, two high school kids, Senku and Taiju, have broken free and will use the power of science to bring civilization back from a petrified doom. As Senku excitedly sums up the mission statement, humanity took millions of years to reach its peak before it turned to stone. And now we’re going to sprint our way back to the top.
Dr. Stone is like Bill Nye the Science Guy mixed with Naked and Afraid, with good old fashion shounen sensibilities thrown in for good measure. While every major victory is marked like a science lesson, teaching you about the world around you and its scientific application, some of my favorite moments are just the low-key confrontations where you know it won’t come to blows but the tension is thick like a fog. Dr. Stone shared its pages with Kimetsu no Yaiba, a decidedly dedicated take on classic action, while Dr. Stone itself brandished this new approach to shounen with a sort of deconstruction of shounen elements into thrilling science lessons.
If It’s For My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord!
Something about the innocent love of a parent for their child is incredibly endearing when done right, especially with a moe character. I was reminded earlier of another series, Sweetness and Lightning. I also get vibes of Yotsuba&! – just completely falling in love with a character and hoping it grows up big and strong, which apparently happens as I’ve heard in the light novel, but I digress.
Generic adventurer Dale is finishing up a fantasy quest in the forest when he comes across a half-starved and ragged demon child named Latina. Seeing as her options for survival seemed dim, even through an orphanage, Dale decides to adopt her and raise her as his own daughter.
I think I can easily summarize why you’d watch this by describing a scene in the second episode as if you were in the scene. This small child who just arrived in her new home, which also functions as a restaurant, decides to do her part and help out by carrying plates back to the sink. This earnest five-year-old takes her time holding a plate that is easily as big as her. You can’t help but stare in worry and hopeful trepidation that she’ll pull through on her own and see her smile with the satisfaction of a job well done.
Also while I’ve already mentioned it, where the hell is my Yotsuba&! anime?
Do You Love Your Mom And Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks?
I’m getting so tired of these long, ultra descriptive titles, so I’m going to reference it as Milfsekai now. It’s an isekai, so at this point, we all know what that means. What is different about this? Well, this time, protagonist Masato is joined by his young and frankly attractive young mother, Mamako (oh come on!).
As the name implies, any power fantasy for your usual isekai series is immediately neutered by the mother figure, who carries all the isekai power fantasy, wielding two broken, overpowered weapons that are capable of wiping whole mobs of enemies in your boilerplate isekai fantasy world, which is also an unfinished MMO with very lenient game rules. Obviously, it needs more Q&A testing if a player can just pick up two starter weapons at once.
I’ll be real, I don’t want to watch this series but everyone is jumping on because of the hook. I dropped Helpful Fox, Senko-San last season because I couldn’t shake my impure thoughts, despite watching a setup that is based entirely on a pure idea. In Senko-San, I’m supposed to enjoy the refreshing innocence of Senko spoiling her overworked friend. But I couldn’t, because I saw a young man and a fox loli who is 300-years-old, living together in an apartment and thought, “Ok, this is fine. No, it’s not actually fine.”
Hopefully I can overcome this mental block for Milfsekai, but calling it Milfsekai probably isn’t a great start.
A Certain Scientific Accelerator
I don’t often talk about the Index series because I feel like its fans are already dead set on seeing this long-running universe, like MCU fans or Fate fans. But something about Accelerator immediately sticks out to me for two reasons: there is a ton of edgy rock music in this slice of the Index world, and I forgot how much I missed listening to the Misaka clones’ dialogue.
This series admittedly is like the previous two examples I used, with some amount of emotional investment required in order to be up to speed to the already lived-in universe of Academy City in the Index-iverse. Accelerator, the former number 1 esper of Academy City, has just taken the bandages off to the gunshot wound he received in the previous series that effectively nerfed him to make the rest of the series fair. Now relying on the neural network of Misaka clones that he once slaughtered mercilessly, Accelerator is on a crash course with the seedy, dark underbelly of Academy City.
Normally an edgelord like Accelerator is relegated to being a supporting character in any other story since we’d be afraid too much of this strong personality would make the character abrasive. But every turn we think Accelerator is too much of an asshole, he gets balanced out immediately by the soft spot he has for Misaka Last Order, the pipsqueak Misaka clone that he’s decided to look out for. Maybe I’m more looking forward to Last Order but Accelerator has his own character development to undergo as the protagonist of his very own series spinning off from the Index-iverse.
The Case of El-Melloi II’s Case Files Grace Notes
In another example of titles that absolutely destroy my fingers on a keyboard is a series that takes place as a spin-off from another series. (Though this one isn’t as obvious, as the name takes no cues from its source.) El-Melloi II follows an older Waver Velvet, a fan-favorite character from the earlier Fate/Zero series, as he has now stepped into the shoes of his late mentor who died like a total jobber during its Holy Grail War.
Since the surviving family El-Melloi left was too young to properly succeed him, Waver’s sense of obligation and guilt for his actions during the Fourth Holy Grail War see him not only take his spot until his sister becomes an adult, but also shoulder a large debt as well.
While this isn’t an Ufotable production, as we all know they’re busy with the third mention of Kimetsu no Yaiba on this list, Troyca does a really good job spinning that slick Fate style that we’ve come to know and love across the decades. While this series isn’t focused on a Holy Grail War to draw some bombastic fights from, if you remember Waver from Fate/Zero, there’s a lot to enjoy from seeing the formerly cowardly and meek Waver Velvet go through life as a wise, tired mage with his own students and connections. There may be no servants to fight but there’s still plenty of political intrigue to be dug up from old, dynastic mage families.
Astra Lost in Space
The moment I heard of this series’ existence, I immediately thought of Interstellar. A “normal” trip to space camp in a future of faster-than-light travel and anti-gravity sneakers becomes disastrous as eight high school kids are mysteriously warped away from their original camp experience – four light-years away from Earth – to a remote location in deep space over 5,000 light-years away.
Of course, survival means getting to know one another, working together, and navigating the deep darkness of space to find their way home. The first episode is a surprisingly extra-long 44 minutes, as opposed to a normal 23-minute run, so Astra makes good use of the extra run time establishing the setting, giving each character breathing room to figure them out, and establishing an event to rally behind so we can get invested in the direction the series is going to go. It’s also done a good job with what I feel is a Negima problem, which is to get us to care about an abnormally large cast of main characters. Maybe three or four characters we focus on with some supporting cast is all well and good, but Astra is about eight different characters stranded together in space, so it’s not as if characters will be going in and out of a spotlight often. They all have unique designs and personalities to tell at a glance who we’re looking at.
It’s also a surprisingly funny show too, despite the existential dread of being stranded in the eternal reaches of space. Most of the jokes are reaction humor, with dumb kids saying dumb things and the straight man to the joke replying with a furious whiplash. Dr. Stone is supposed to use humor in reaction jokes too, but the replies in Astra hit so much harder.
I really like main boy Kanata despite being a total shounen template, and I’d follow him to hell and back. His booming hero voice and nose scar easily point him out as the red ranger-style leader, but he’s just so easy to like because even if you consider him over-the-top, the rest of the cast will call him out on it.
Probably my most anticipated anime for the season is Vinland Saga, a series I’ve been following even longer than Dr. Stone. There’s just something magnetic about anime and manga that do not even remotely take place in or around the sphere of Japan, and this is as far from Japan as it gets with the Vikings of the far north.
Taking place around the time of the Danish invasion of England, Vinland Saga is focused on Thorfinn, a young boy who we’ll follow on a bloody Viking journey across the seas and England. It should certainly speak to how far I’m willing to go to see this as it is uniquely stuck behind the Amazon Prime video streaming service, which is just a vague cloud of streaming content that I barely know how to navigate.
There isn’t much more I can say, as the best part of Vinland Saga is how far characters change over the course of its long story, so I’ll just part with one of the most amazing panels from its manga, which I’m sure everyone has seen at least once on the internet without context. This is why you check out Vinland Saga.
The next few ones I’m going to mention quickly as they are either series I haven’t seen because I’m nervous of jumping into something new during my packed schedule, or it’s just a series I don’t have legal access to (mostly Funimation streaming).
How Heavy are the Dumbbells You Lift?
- Cute girls doing cute things, except it’s about getting jacked at the gym.
- Your cute senpai wants to impress you with magic, but she usually ends up screwing up in the end, but she’s trying her best.
- Textbook buddy cop drama, but with a police detective as you know it from Earth and a knight from the magical world colliding and intersecting.
Are You Lost?
- I’m starting to notice a pattern here, but four high school girls are suddenly stranded on a desert island and must now survive.
What anime are you going to follow this season? Keep in mind I didn’t list anything that is a continuation like Kimetsu no Yaiba and I’m definitely following Danmachi season 2. Small footnote that JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind hasn’t aired their final episode yet, as the double-long finale will be airing on the 28th, which is why summer 2019 feels somewhat unreal to me. We haven’t seen Giorno realize his dream yet, so until then, summer won’t begin until we see the end of Diavolo.