So I recently finished some of the animes of the Summer Season (Fall Season starting this week!). Here's a few thoughts about them:
Arcana Famiglia: Easily the worst of the bunch. The main character, who was supposed to be a strong, independent heir, turned out to be a sheepish and annoying girl. The secondary cast wasn't the most original, and even the few characters with an intriguing premise had to be butchered for the sake of keeping this kind of mafia fairy tale going on.
To make matters story was pretty much no-existent, the mechanics of the world were barely explained, resulting in some ridiculously flawed "laws" (using the term loosely). The animation was a bit derpy, but I guess the artwork and sonority were alright. Not recommended. I gave it a 3/10.
The Anime with a big name aka Uta Koi: It was a fun watch. One could easily notice it was running on a low budget, but it made up with an original art style, which I admit not all might appreciate, and gorgeous scenery, though it had to resort often to still frames, which still didn't detract much from the experience.
The premise was simple: in each episode (or part of one) the anime would interpret various love poems, trying to justify their existence with an interpretation of historical facts mixed with fiction. Despite the standalone feel of most of the stories, they had a loose continuity which leads to the creation of two arcs: he Heian era and then the late Heian era. Between these arcs, there was a parody episode that included characters from both arcs (mostly the first).
Speaking of the parody episode, it was part of one of the biggest problems people might have with this anime (I didn't): the humour may feel a little overdone or silly. Yes, this anime is rather light-hearted and tries to interest younger people a little, so if you do not appreciate a silly joke once in a while you're better off not watching this. Or, if you can take it but in small doses, maybe you should skip the parody episode (episode 6), although you'll be missing on funny, in character takes of a bull race (I hear it's based on a special of some anime), morning talk shows, Ouran Host Club and even Yu-gi-oh!
Another recommendation I have is to give up on memorizing all the characters, or at least their names. You won't be able to. Rest assured, this makes a potential re-watch the more worthwhile.
This anime is clearly directed at a niche, but it's well done. I gave it a 7.5/10.
Natsuyuki Rendezvous: This was the biggest disappointment of the season for me. It started of as an interesting, somewhat fresh and mature romance between a young man and a widow already in her 30s, who were involved in a love triangle with the widow's ghost husband! While the supernatural aspect didn't detract much from the first few episodes, which were very good, it did lead to a situation (during a plot twist I won't mention) that dragged an arc for too long (until the end of the series, pretty much), and it got a bit boring. However, the anime was unpredictable, so despite the annoyance provoked by the situation, I found myself always at the edge of my seat, waiting for what would happen next. The conclusion made up for the boredom of the "supernatural arc" a bit, as it was well done and satisfying.
The visuals were above average and did their job. The audio part was better than the visuals; we were offered touching opening and ending sequences and an enjoyable OST.
All in all, if you can endure some annoyance and frustration and have nothing better to watch, give this a try. It's definitively above your average romance, despite its flaws. I gave it a 6.5/10.
Kokoro Connect: I know there's still a few more episodes coming for this one, but they are OVAs so I'm not counting them for this purpose.
Disappointed me a bit, but I didn't come expecting too much. All I wanted was a funny body swamping comedy, and I kind of got that.
The main problem with this anime is that I never got the feeling it really knew what it wanted to be. Sometimes it was a comedy, and a funny one at that, but then suddenly it became a heavy adolescent drama that felt forced and exaggerated. It didn't help that the main character was bland, probably based on the archetype of your average harem lead (though this isn't a harem per se), but at least the others were mildly interesting. From the quirky but serious class president, to the air-headed physics teacher, the secondary cast was OK. The other members of the CRC (Cultural Research Club) were just as fine, but I had two issues with them: first their problems looked to be blown out of proportions (I'm not saying they weren't problems, but they were taken way too tragically. Tari Tari did a better job at handling normal teen problems) and some had problems, but as characters (Aoki took too long to stop being a cardboard in love with Yui and Iori just made no sense at times). Oh, and don't get me started on Heartseed and co. I can accept supernatural elements just fine, but when there's no explanation they don't bode well. Yeah, mystery is nice but when well placed.
I don't have much to add about the audiovisuals. The animation was good, sharp and clean, and the opening and ending sequences were mostly catchy and enjoyable. I didn't notice the OST much, but it didn't perturb at the very least.
All in all, the best about this was the comedy (unfortunately it's not the main genre and many obvious and funny jokes get thrown away in favour of the drama) and the supernatural events themselves (the body swamping and, later, others), despite having no explanation, helped keeping interest. I gave it a 6/10
I still have Tari Tari to finish but sadly it might take a while. I'm also not reviewing Hyouka since it started in the spring (but I loved it, though it's probably not for everyone - if you don't mind moe and find mundane things interesting, give it a try).