First off, I’ll have you know that some of the best anime I’ve watched were this year’s summer anime. Second, I planned on writing separate reviews but figured that would take too long and I want to write the reviews while the details are still fresh.
Barakamon Story: 10/10 This goes right up there with K Project, Darker than Black, Rurouni Kenshin and Natsume Yuujinchou. Absolute masterpiece of an anime and adapted from such a simple but beautiful manga.
This slice-of-life anime is about Handa Seishuu (aka Sensei as he is known to the village people), a talented calligrapher from Tokyo, who is sent off to a remote island after punching an art director in a moment of anger in to repent and in the process, try to find his own unique writing style. There he learns to adapt to the slow and laid back and bare country life. This is also where he forms new friendships and bonds with all the strange and crazy people in the tiny village.
It’s so beautiful, I cry. There’s character development in every episode and even though I can’t picture myself living in a town that small, it was all very interesting and I found myself thinking how amazing it would be to live in a town where everyone knows each other.
L-R: Kawafuji, Sensei, Hiroshi, Naru, Kousuke
Characters: 10/10 Naru might start out as one of those annoying kid characters but don’t be fooled. She is the most lovable anime kid. She’s mischievous and adventurous (she has this strange obsession with bugs) and is always bugging Sensei to play with her. Her relationship with Sensei is so heartwarming.
Sensei is the best. He is a goofball with a quick temper but a big heart. He is as handsome as he is old-school. After being told by the art director that his calligraphy is boring and unoriginal, he sets off on a quest to create his own style of calligraphy. He’s a determined guy but with a mentality set to ‘live by the basic rules of calligraphy’, he finds it difficult to break out of the mold.
Then there’s Tama and Miwa, the two 14/15 year old girls who love a good prank and are generally fun-loving. They are the ringleaders of the town’s kids and lead them into all kinds of mischief.
Hiroshi is the oldest ‘kid’ in town at age 17 or was it 18? He’s got a dry sense of humor but is fun to be around.
The other kids are Hina, Kentarou, Daisuke and Yutaka. Hina is a crybaby, Kentarou is a boy version of Naru and the other kids are just part of the gang. There are a few other interesting characters like the Village Chief, Naru’s grandpa and Tama’s brother.
Sound: 9/10 The OP and ED are perfect. I don’t know which I like better. The OP is Rashisa by Super Beaver (coolest band name since Goat Bed but that’s a whole different story). The ED is Innocence by Noisy Cell. I know, what absurd band names… until you listen to their songs.
The background music fit the mood but I don’t remember a particular score catching my interest. Hmm, maybe I’ll have to re-watch it soon.
The voice acting was amazing mostly because of Ono Daisuke’s talent but also because they actually hired kids to voice the children. Usually they get women to do the kids’ roles but Barakamon has real kids playing the characters. I think it felt a lot more raw because you can ‘feel’ the innocence of the kids through their voice acting.
Ono Daisuke as Handa Seishuu (aka Sensei), Hara Suzuko as Kotoishi Naru, Suwabe Junichi as Kawafuji, Uchiyama Kouki as Kido Hiroshi, Kaji Yuki as Kanzaki Kousuke, Furuki Nozomi as Yamamura Miwa, Okubo Rumi as Arai, Endou Rina as Kubota Hina, Tamako Sugino Tanuki as Kido Yuujirou, Kimura Seiya as Oohama Kentarou.
Art: 10/10 Handa Seishuu is so cute. <3 <3 I love his character design. Actually everyone’s character design fits their personality. Naru’s expressions are the bomb.
The calligraphy was brilliant – every piece was breathtaking!! The animation was smooth and I didn’t find any inconsistencies. Gorgeous setting and warm-toned colors – so inviting.
Overall: 10/10 Watch this. I love it so much. It’s heartwarming and a great feel-good show. Another classic example of simplicity can be beautiful.
Free! Eternal Summer
L-R: bottom row: Haru, Rin, Rei; second row: Nagisa, Makoto
Story: 5/10 So bad, seriously. I don’t know if more time between this season and the last would have resulted in a better storyline but I doubt it. The story is about Haru this time (sort of) and Rin and Sousuke(why). I don’t want to recount the story for fear that I might get riled up and go off track so here’s the gist:
Haru, Makoto and Rin are in their last year of high school while Nagisa and Rei are in their 2nd year of high school. They’re determined to go to the swimming championship this year but since it’s Haru, Makoto and Rin last year of school, they also have to concentrate on their studies and plan their future. But wait, before that, Sousuke who is Rin’s childhood friend, shows up in town and starts going to Rin’s school, bringing more drama in the process.
Most of the whole season focuses on Haru not knowing what he wants to do in the future (boy doesn’t want to go to college, doesn’t want to take up swimming as a profession, basically just wants to be ‘free’ whatever that means) and Sousuke being jealous of Rin and Haru’s relationship (boy needs to take a chill pill and realize that nobody is out to snag his boyfriend) while hiding a ‘secret’ from Rin.
I think the name Eternal Summer should have been played down a little simply because of the fact that they kept stressing the point of everyone not being to swim together after school ends. They made it sound like a sure fact – like oh no, this will be laaast time they get to swim together. Sorry, what ever happened to public pools and school holidays?? I mean, I understand that sometimes it is difficult to meet up after high school because everyone kind of goes their own way but the way they made it sound was way too dramatic.
Completely unrealistic story part: Haru FLEW TO AUSTRALIA with Rin in the middle of the school year after he fought with Makoto. Who even does that? Where does the money come from? Also, the episodes didn’t add up. The first half of the season was about each character’s troubles then halfway through the season, the story changed and well, it was disjointed from there.
Characters: 7/10 Haru’s character development was in the negative zone this season. He was a whiny, angry, ungrateful brat. Makoto should have just slapped him across the face. Instead of being a supportive friend, he has been holding Makoto back all this while with his indecisiveness and bratty behavior. So annoying. His catchphrase this season is ‘What future?’ instead of ‘I only swim free’. It got annoying after the first three times he said it.
Makoto probably had the most development. Like Haru, Makoto has always kind of been uncertain of what to do in the future but in this season, we got to see Makoto find his place in the world after teaching kids how to swim and realizing that that was what he enjoyed. It was pretty sweet. I am really glad that there was character development for Makoto since he is my favorite character. Makoto is everything – kind, gentle, handsome, affectionate, patient and CHECK THOSE ABS OUT.
Nagisa and Rei improved in this season too even though I’m sure their lines were decreased.
Rin was also surprisingly better this season too. I didn’t like him in the first season but I have to say, after his hissy fit in season 1, he seems to have matured/improved a lot. I like that. He’s waaay better than Haru in terms of character personality.
I did not like the addition of Sousuke’s character. It was painful to watch even though some might argue that he’s the best part of Free! Eternal Summer. Sousuke basically acted like Haru in season 1 except with an injury. His story didn’t feel relevant to the main story and why does everyone want to ‘swim with Rin once more’?? He and Rin’s relationship are like two emo high school girls. -_- ‘Because I knew you would cry’ is probably the poorest reason for hiding the fact that your shoulder is broken and you can’t swim anymore but you’re just forcing yourself so that you can swim with someone.
Kisumi was interesting though but we saw all of 30 seconds of him for the entire season. Oh well. We also got to see much less of Gou even though she’s one of the more interesting characters. Less Coach Sasabe but more Ren and Ran (Makoto’s siblings awww).
Momo is the cutest. I LOVE him and his sea otter impressions. He’s as hilarious and sweet as his brother Captain Mikoshiba Seijuurou (ah, my heart goes doki doki for this cutie). Minus points for the lack of Mikoshiba scenes. Okay, there were a few scenes but I love my Mikoshiba too much for those bits to be enough.
L-R: Sousuke, Rin, Ai, Momo
Sound: 9/10 If it’s one thing that they’ve kept consistent this season, it’s the music. The OP is by OldCodex again and somehow we managed not to listen to it at all. I don’t know, there’s a lot of screaming. The ED is Future Fish by Style Five (haha, yeah, Haru, Makoto, Nagisa, Rei and Rin) and it’s as catchy as Splash Free, maybe more. I love it. Neo Blue Breathing (who even comes up with these titles and what do they actually mean??) is awesome.
Makoto’s character songs are great but the rest are just okay. The background music is even better and I can’t wait for all the tracks to be released.
The voice acting was consistent. Old cast: Shimazaki Nobunaga as Nanase Haruka, Suzuki Tatsuhisa as Tachibana Makoto, Tsubasa Yonaga as Hazuki Nagisa, Hirakawa Daisuke as Ryuugazaki Rei, Miyano Mamoru as Matsuoka Rin, Miyata Kouki as Nitori Ai, Yanaka Hiroshi as Sasabe Gorou, Watabe Akeno as Matsuoka Gou, Yukino Satsuki as Amakata Miho, Tsuda Kenjirou as Mikoshiba Seijuurou.
New cast: Suzumura Kenichi as Mikoshiba Momotarou (as adorable as SuzuKen gets), Hosoya Yoshimasa as Yamazaki Sousuke was ehhh but I guess his voice fit Sousuke’s size??
Art: 10/10 What can I say? KyoAni’s best art and animation yet. Stop it, Makoto is infinitely HOTTER in this season. I melt.
I love that there were more clothes this season as in more outfit changes. I can’t get enough of everyone looking so good in whatever they’re wearing. Hah, there was tons of fan service so don’t worry, the swimming boys are still in epic shape and look better than ever.
The animation is wonderful!! Absolutely flawless. I love the attention to detail and the ending video topped the first season’s which is saying something because how can you top Rin splashing in water in the Sahara Desert lol? Makoto as a fireman. Makoto as a fireman. Makoto as a fireman. The end.
Overall: 7/10 I know this review sounds critical of Free! and while I am disappointed in the poor storyline and lack of character development, I have a love-hate-love relationship with Free. Everything about Free! is beautiful, just not the parts that are most important aka the story. I would probably say that I enjoyed the first season better (minus the betrayal of Rei part).
Story: 7.5/10 This is a story about high school volleyball. Most sports anime have the same concept: the high school team trying to win some kind of championship (except maybe Free! where there’s a lot of high school drama between boys lol jk). And how interesting can that get, you wonder? Actually, very. I enjoyed Kuroko no Basuke immensely.
The story is centered around Karasuno High School and its volleyball club. Kageyama (aka King of the Court) and Hinata, who were originally from rival junior high schools, transfer to Karasuno. They both join the volleyball club where they learn to put aside their old rivalry and play as a team. Because of their skill and talent, they become quite the duo but even then they soon learn of the importance of training and working together in a team.
Man, I don’t really know how to summarize the story but to simplify it further: The story is mostly about those two but then there’s also the challenges faced by the whole volleyball team and the main goal is to win the Inter High volleyball competition.
The episodes near the ending were a bit too far-fetched but luckily the ending wasn’t too unrealistic. The last episode was weird though… I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t watched. Haikyuu!! has 24 episodes but it sure didn’t feel that way. Everything went by really quickly, meaning there was a lot of action so no boring moments.
Teams: Karasuno (orange and navy), Aoba Jousai (white and green), Nekoma (red and black)
Characters: 8/10 Wow, there are too many to list. I’ll just give you Karasuno’s members. Kageyama Tobio, Hinata Shouyou, Tanaka Ryuunosuke, Sawamura Daichi, Nishinoya Yuu, Sugawara Koushi, Azumane Asahi, Tsukishima Kei, Ukai Keishin, Yamaguchi Tadashi, Takeda Ittetsu.
Kageyama is okay. I probably don’t like him as much as Kagami from KnB even if he did turn down the obnoxious ‘King of the Court’ behavior. Hinata is better. Maybe too enthusiastic but a better comic relief than Kuroko. I liked Nishinoya better than I expected to. Tanaka is hilarious. I just wish they focused less on Kageyama and Hinata since the other members got far less screen time. Coach Ukai is cool.
In terms of character development, it was there though I wouldn’t say there was a lot of it… Well, there’s probably going to be a season 2 so hopefully we’ll see more character development there.
Oh then there’s Kuroo Tetsurou and Oikawa Tooru. Because they are important. And so fine. You did not hear that from me ahaha.
Sound: 8.5/10 NICO Touches The Wall has gone into my music folder. They sang one of the three EDs and I love it. I don’t remember what the other EDs sound like so I’ll probably go listen to them later. The OPs were okay (better than OldCodex IMO).
Here we have some (fairly) new voice talent: Ishikawa Kaito as Kageyama, Murase Ayumu as Hinata, Hayashi Yuu as Tanaka, Saito Soma as Yamaguchi. Regulars: Hino Satoshi, Okamoto Nobuhiko, Irino Miyu, Kamiya Hiroshi, Hosoya Yoshimasa, Uchiyama Kouki, Tanaka Kazunari, Nakamura Yuuichi, Namikawa Daisuke, Kaji Yuki, Yoshino Hiroyuki… Everyone was great!
Art: 9/10 Nice art, great animation. The movements were fluid so the actions felt very real. The setting was nice – I liked the whole countryside feel to it… Kind of like Barakamon but not as small.
Overall: 7.5/10 Good show. It’s fast-paced and volleyball is an interesting sport so I recommend it. Prepare to be high strung on emotions while watching it.
And that’s it! We watched wayyy too many shows in such a small frame of time so my recollection of each show is jumbled up.