I have not one, but two reviews for you today! The summer 2013 anime season is only at the halfway point, so think of these as more impressions or "thoughts so far." Both reviews cover episodes 1-6.
If you're like me, you usually prefer to watch your anime in big doses after a series is complete. However, if you're like me, you're also a socially clumsy shut in with hair that covers half your face, so when the current season gives you a protagonist with the same qualities, it's hard to pass up watching. Watashi ga Motenai no wa dō Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! or WataMote is a rare dark comedy gem. The draw of the show is all thanks to its heroine, Tomoko Kuroki.
Fifteen year old Tomoko thinks she's in for popularity and an exciting high school life after playing a few too many dating sims. She quickly finds out the real world is far from her delusional expectations. And Tomoko is definitely straight up delusional, there's no question. She's not like any anime heroine I've seen, but she's strangely compelling. Her social ineptitude is pretty extreme, but there's something hilarious and even at times touching about her relentless quest for popularity. I've watched shows where characters meant to be weird have no likability behind the quirks, but WataMote is not guilty of this, despite Tomoko being very out there (and a total pervert, at that).
This show is very funny, but make no mistake - it's kinda fucked up. WataMote isn't a feel good show and it can be rather sadistic to its protagonist. Part of its charm is that the writing, unlike Tomoko, is very self aware. We're no strangers to otaku comedies here, but WataMote's humor is a lot blacker than most. And for that, it's definitely worth your time.
Danganronpa: The Animation
As we've seen before *coughsteinsgatecough*, visual novel-to-anime can be a great transition. Combine that with eye catching art, a good mystery, and the fact that I'm a sucker for kids killing each other off, and I knew I had to try Danganronpa. The story follows Makoto Naegi, an ordinary teenager starting high school at the prestigious Hope's Peak Academy. He was accepted by winning a raffle, but his fellow students all have special skills, referred to as "Super High School Level." Like WataMote's Tomoko, his expectations are quickly dashed. In this case it's because Hope's Peak Academy is actually a compound run by a maniacal stuffed bear (Monobear), who explains that the only way to graduate is by killing a fellow student. Oh, and the murderer has to get away with it. If a killer is found out by his peers in a "school trial," he or she is executed.
Danganronpa is an exciting ride and the fast moving plot is hard to tear yourself away from. The art style that helped draw me in also doesn't disappoint. The execution scenes especially use some ingenious animation. Beyond these elements, however, the show is rather shallow. The characters are so colorful and numerous that it's difficult to get attached to any of them. Any hints at depth are quickly lost in the constant zaniness. Luckily this saves the dullness of Naegi himself from dragging the show down. He's well intentioned and earnest, so with the wacky nature of almost every other character and part of the show, he makes a fine straight man.
Though maybe it's best not to get attached to anyone...
The show is lighthearted in the most messed up way possible. The premise and plot are extremely sinister, but it's hard to take anything seriously when blood is neon pink and the villain is a stuffed animal. The good is good enough to stick to it, though. If I haven't convinced you, let me just say that one execution involved the culprit being turned into butter and spread on Monobear's pancakes. Does that still count as cannibalism?