Summer means fanservice, and you’ll find an ample supply of boobies and butts in Umisho (ケンコー全裸系水泳部 ウミショー), the definitive harem comedy of the season. It airs Tuesday nights at 26:00 JST on Tokyo MX.
The foundation for this skin festival lies in Hattori Mitsuru‘s manga running at 5+ volumes, and now the animated version is being directed by Soutome Kouichirou (Bokura ga Ita) and screenplay by Ikeda Mamiko (Keroro Gunsou). Their mission appears to be to bring the audience as much bust and buttocks and swimsuits as possible within 24 minutes, and they really do succeed.
However, there has to be a plot, since you can’t just pump up a few dolls and have them float around in a pool, no matter how arousing. To remedy this, they’ve created a character for us to identify with. His name is Okiura Kaname, and he’s the swimming club manager at a school nicknamed “Umishou” for short, where he refuses to get into the water due to a bit of childhood mermaid trauma. Instead he passes the days by timing the ladies as their swollen lovelies bob up and down the lanes as fast as possible. One day a houseboat appears on the beach, with the ever cheerful heroine Ninagawa Amuro, who soon displays exceptional underwater skills. Yet swimming isn’t the only bond she has with Kaname, as she can’t seem to shake the feeling that they’ve met before.
As long as you find the character design appealing, the show has no flaws in the visual department. It features a pleasing breezy palette and plenty of curvy animation by Artland, whose Mushishi you may have enjoyed. Amuro’s voice is done by nooblet Toyosaki Aki in her first leading part, with future love interest Kaname played by Toyonaga Toshiyuki, who’s established himself with Zettai Shounen and Capeta. Their supporting cast is solid, with the perpetually superb Nabatame Hitomi (Arcueid in Tsukihime) as the rival Orizuka Momoko, and cutie-pie Shimizu Ai (Mikoto in Mai-hime) as the bouncy freshman.
A few of these shows pop up every year, and it’s the kind of anime you either love or hate: mindless fun, filled with more breasts than you can count, and possibly a bit of romance if there’s time to spare. With a bit of luck we’ll also see some actual sports content before it’s over. Having a natural lack of protruding chest, I find it highly enjoyable, and where’s the harm in watching a guy get his face stuck in a young lady’s bosom every two minutes?
Reminds me of: Girls Bravo
If you have any interest at all in amateur manga creation, Doujin Work (ドージンワーク) may get your attention. It’s the latest four-panel strip to be animated, and just started airing Tuesdays at 25:30 JST on Chiba TV.
The original was created by Hiroyuki, a fellow who used to draw Fate/Stay Night characters in panties, but now successful enough to have published four volumes of a manga that gets a tender treatment by anime director Yatagai Kenichi, who handled the more recent Tenchi Muyou OVAs. The episodes are short at ~14 minutes, with cheap but sufficient production values and simple character design. Most of the gang behind it worked on Magipoka last year.
The plot revolves around college student Osana Najimi (terrible pun). During a train ride, she bemoans having lost her part-time job, and is offered to assist her friend Tsuyuri with something indecent. It turns out Tsuyuri is a doujin artist specializing in rape porn and part of the Panty Revolution circle. Once Najimi gets over the embarrassment of selling lewd comics to random people at Comiket, she learns about the massive sales figures involved, and decides to get rich by drawing her very own doujin.
While the show may look plain visually, the aural experience is a feast for the ears with an excellent cast. Najimi is brought to life by a lively Asano Masumi (Mariya in OtoBoku), while Saitou Momoko (Solty in Solty Rei) does the deadpan Tsuyuri perfectly.
I was wary of Doujin Work as I progressed through the dull intro, but as soon as Najimi started talking I perked up, and was rewarded with a big laugh as she asks for more details about Tsuyuri’s sleepiness. As I keep mentioning, it doesn’t look for much, but it works, because it’s not a show that runs on visuals. There are some solid jokes supporting the episode, and I hope it doesn’t grow stale fast, because it’s quite enjoyable so far. It’s part of a strange meta-genre populated with productions like Genshiken and Lucky Star, so if you enjoyed those, this is worth checking out.
Reminds me of: Genshiken
The summer’s “surprise” show is basketball anime Buzzer Beater, not because of exciting qualities, but because there was already a show with the same title, director and characters back in 2005. The lack of information led me to believe it could be a remake, but it turns out to be a proper continuation of the story. It will be aired by NTV on Tuesday nights at 24:56 JST.
Let’s start with the plot. A few hundred years in the future, humanity has joined a galactic society where the most popular sport is basketball. Due to superior physique, the alien race from planet Goran is at the very top of the Space League, while we human originators don’t seem to stand a chance. To remedy this, a rich old man decides to create an international Earth Team to challenge the fearsome horned athletes and sets out to recruit the very best our planet can provide. One of them happens to be a young homeless man called Hideyoshi, gifted with magnificent skills but a terrible ego, who obviously becomes the show’s protagonist.
The sequel simply picks up where the first show left off, and as mentioned it’s kept most of the staff involved, with Miya Shigeyuki directing, and studio TMS Entertainment animating. The voice cast also remains the same: Hideyoshi is played by Takimoto Fujiko (Yuu in Noein), fiery girl Cha-Che by Kobayashi Sanae (Lucy in Elfen Lied), and various big stars like Ueda Yuuji and Nakata Jouji among the rest. Production quality is similar to what I remember from the first season, with most of the resources spent on the basketball scenes, leaving the rest looking pretty wonky. It also retains the glossy, plastic look with strong colours.
When I heard about Buzzer Beater two years ago, I got hugely excited. What could be better than basing an anime on Inoue Takehiko‘s manga? The guy had a stunning track record with Slam Dunk – arguably the best sports manga ever – and the current samurai story Vagabond, two of my absolute favourites. Unfortunately it turned out to be awful. I watched the entire thing to the end, but I hated myself afterward, yet it’s hard to put a finger on it now. First of all, it just looks hideous. Vagabond is as beautiful as manga can get, but with Buzzer Beater everything just went wrong. In addition, the characters are very random and extreme, but without any depth, while the plot is silly at best. Hideyoshi is an egocentric little bitch as well, which doesn’t help. Now we’re getting another season that, from what I can tell after the first episode, is just as terrible. If you’re itching for sports anime, you’d be much better off watching Major or Hajime no Ippo.
Reminds me of: Slam Dunk