Summer 2016 Spotlight: Surprise and Disappointment of the Season

It’s that time again when I have to decide which of the 30 or so shows I picked up win these incredibly vaguely defined categories. This time the decision-making process was not very difficult on my part, but I’m not sure I’m happy about the conclusions I came to, maybe because I wanted the disappointment to be the positive surprise and vice versa, or something like that.

The reasons that the decision was easy for me were the facts that most of the shows I dropped were just forgettable, i.e. I didn’t hate them, and most of the shows I enjoy are not very full of surprises. Examples of the former include Fukigen na Mononokean, B-Project and Tsukiuta. They were alright, but not so interesting that I wanted to watch past episode 1. Sure, there were some real stinkers in the mix, such as Servamp and Hatsukoi Monster, but neither of those came as any kind of surprise (ok, Hatsukoi Monster was even worse than I thought it’d be, but I digress). Ange Vierge, on the other hand, was a show I had moderate hopes for (because the PV looked really cool), but in the end it disappointed me by, well, being really talky in a way that didn’t seem meaningful. However, it’s not my pick of the season, because there’s another show that disappointed me even more.

Disappointment of the Season: 91 Days

Summer 2016 Spotlight 91 Days 1

I’ll be honest: This decision is very much related to my choice for Disappointment of the Season in Summer 2015, Gangsta. Considering Manglobe went belly-up after that, it’s probably a coincidence that a committee decided to make a very similar show the same time the following year, but that’s not very comforting for me. The fact that I enjoyed most of last season’s Joker Game only adds to the disappointment, but I won’t dwell on that point right now.

Summer 2016 Spotlight 91 Days 2

As with Gangsta, my main problem with 91 Days was the exaggerated gangster stereotypes. To be honest, I was aggravated enough by Fango in episode 1 to want to drop the show immediately, but I decided to give it another chance. And the next 2 (?) episodes were actually fine, but then Don Orco showed up, and I just lost hope. I should probably stop getting my hopes up when it comes to gangster shows, but I’m not sure I’ll ever learn.


As for the shows that I actually like, well, I ended up liking most of them for completely unsurprising reasons, so there’s not much to say about them. Amanchu is not identical to the Aria series, but it’s close enough, so I like it for the same reason. Mob Psycho 100 surprised me a bit because I ended up liking it much more than One Punch Man, but I did have high hopes for it from the start. And I guess Orange was a surprise, because while I like certain shoujo and josei shows a lot, most of them ones I’ve seen lately haven’t been great. But Orange is great. However, the indisputably biggest surprise for me this season is…

Surprise of the Season: Taboo Tattoo

Summer 2016 Spotlight Taboo Tattoo 1

Yeah, yeah, I talk a lot about how I don’t like these kinds of shows, and yet I keep finding ones that really grip me (Owari no Seraph was another one). What I mean by “these kinds of shows” is, of course, ones where the main character is a somewhat perverted high school student with “a strong sense of justice” who gets superpowers. You know what I mean, those kinds of shows.

Summer 2016 Spotlight Taboo Tattoo 2

Or so I thought. Apparently my thinly veiled prejudice is based on random chance, because shows keep coming and some of them keep sticking. Like Taboo Tattoo. Sure, it’s helped by the outrageously silly names, the main character’s given name is actually “Justice” (his allies are Bluesy Fluesy and Tom Shredfield), but I’d like the show even if it wasn’t for those things. It has great animation (surprisingly consistently so), which makes up for the fact that the story (America vs. fictional rogue Asian nation) isn’t very interesting. The characters are also surprisingly likeable: Bluesy reminds me of Shinoa from Owari no Seraph, and the main character actually reminds me more of Waver from Fate/Zero (mostly because I think they look alike) than the main characters of other shows similar to Taboo Tattoo.

Summer 2016 Spotlight Taboo Tattoo 3

Best of all, though, Taboo Tattoo nails its dramatic scenes. Not through “refined” or “sophisticated” drama, but through sheer loudness, in a way not entirely unlike Senki Zesshou Symphogear. Again, it helps that the characters have really funny names that they call out when fighting each other, but I really enjoy watching it nonetheless. I think it’s genuinely a good action show.

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