Friday, July 12, 2013

Summer 2013 Season Preview

As the season winds down and the shows you love turn into the shows you hate, it's time to turn to the siren call of the next season! This summer season is packed with good-looking shows, and it looks like there's something for everyone!

Disclaimer: The following is my personal (and sometimes embellished) opinion based on the information available and is subject to change throughout the upcoming season. None of the opinions expressed are directed at any individual. You are welcome to express your opinion in the comments section, but anything overwhelming negative (name calling, abusive trolling, etc.) will be deleted.




This preview does not include: upcoming movies, OVAs, special episodes, sequels to shows that I have not seen the first season of (when seeing the first season is necessary to understand the plot), spinoffs that I have not seen the original material for, "kids" shows that I do not intend to watch, shows where there is little to no information available, re-releases, adaptations of games that I have not played, and shows intended to be shown on mobile platforms in Japan (such as cell phones).



Overall, please respect others' opinions and feel free to share what you're excited about in the comments below!

SERVANT X SERVICE (/)

GENRES: Comedy, Slice of Life

SYNOPSIS: Anime about the staff of the health and welfare section of the ward office of a certain city. Newcomers Hasebe Yutaka, Yamagami, Miyoshi Saya, and their supervisor Ichimiya Taishi go through the everyday quirks of working at their office.

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: High. I really enjoy Working!/Wagnaria, so I'm excited to see the other work that the creator is responsible for. They also have the director from Ika Musume, which is a plus for comedy as far as I'm concerned.



SILVER SPOON (GIN NO SAJI) (/)

GENRES: Comedy, School, Shounen, Slice of Life

SYNOPSIS: Yugo Hachiken dreams of life separated from his family, so he takes the initiative by enrolling in an agriculture school. He thinks, with his talent in studying, no problems will arise no matter what kind of school he attends. He is proven wrong very quickly. Raised as a city boy, he is forced to uncover the inconvenient truth about agricultural life. Enjoy the story of Hachiken, as he tries to keep up with his new friends, farmers' heirs, who are already accustomed to the harsh world of farming. With no clear goals or understanding of farming life, how will Hachiken survive this new, cruel reality? The story of a sweat, tear, and mud-stained youth begins!

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: High. From the creator of Full Metal Alchemist comes a story about...agriculture? I thought that was kind of out of left field until I remembered that the mangaka represents herself as a cow and apparently grew up on a farm. In any case, I'm excited for this change of pace. It's also a noitaminA series, in case you need any more convincing (although that's not the same declaration of quality as it used to be...).



GENEI WO KAKERU TAIYOU (/)

GENRES: Magic

SYNOPSIS: A story of girls who solve mysterious matters that occur in this world, using the mystical tarot cards that hold the power to read destinies.

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: Moderate. Here's one for all you people who watched Madoka and complained that other magical girl shows weren't "dark" enough (ignoring the fact that most magical girl shows go to some pretty dark places... but that's a rant for another day). From the PVs that have been released so far, it looks like the angst has been turned up to 11. It also shows off some interesting character designs, and I'm always willing to give an original anime a shot. However, I'm a bit concerned with the fact that, for whatever reason, the promotional material keeps pointing out that the director worked on Ro-Kyu-Bu (a.k.a. the loli basketball anime) when it probably should be pointing out his Nanoha credits instead, considering this is a magical girl project. The person in charge of the series composition has quite the resume, with everything from Mouretsu Pirates and Tegami Bachi to Queen's Blade and (again) Ro-Kyu-Bu. The last magical girl series she worked on was Twin Angel: Twinkle Paradise, a show which overshot parody and landed in insultingly stupid territory. In summary, I'm keeping my excitement in check even though I want this to do well.



BLOOD LAD (/)

GENRES: Comedy, Demons, Vampire, Supernatural, Seinen

SYNOPSIS: Staz is the vampire boss of a section of the demon world, but he has little interest in human blood. He's more infatuated with Japanese culture. When he learns that Yanagi Fuyumi, a Japanese teenage girl, accidentally wanders into the demon city, he jumps to the occasion. However, while Staz deals with an intruder on his turf, the oblivious Fuyumi is killed by a monster and becomes a wandering ghost. The disappointed Staz vows to her that he will find a way to bring Fuyumi back to life.

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: Moderate. This was in my preview guide I don't even know how many seasons ago, but it ended up not airing for one reason or another. This time around, the studio is releasing a lot more information about the anime production (character profiles, background art, etc.), so I think it safe to say that it'll actually air. Otherwise, my feelings on it are pretty unchanged; it's not a big title, nor one of the series I'm really looking forward to this season, but it looks like a fun premise all the same. I'm expecting a decent, middle-of-the-road title. And with a season like this, it's good to have at least one of these.



BROTHER'S CONFLICT (/)

GENRES: Romance, Shoujo, Harem

SYNOPSIS: Hinata Ema is the only daughter of a famous adventurer, Hinata Rintarou. One day, Ema learns that Rintarou is going to remarry with a successful apparel maker named Asahina Miwa. Since she doesn't want to disturb them, Ema decides to move out and live with her 11 new brothers in a mansion called Sunrise Residence. As they live under the same roof, romance is starting to grow between Ema and the Asahina brothers.

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: None. This basically sounds like Sister Princess with the genders flipped. I'm also not very confident about Brains Base's ability to pick good otome games to adapt, given that last time we got Amnesia. I may bite the bullet for the OASG team and write a first impressions post on the first episode, but I'm expecting nothing out of this.



LOVE LAB (/) GENRES: Comedy, Romance, School

SYNOPSIS: The Fujisaki Girls Academy is known for their school body being composed of very proper students. The most prominent one of them is Maki, the student president who is admired by her classmates for her calm and polite demeanor. On the other hand, Kurahashi Riko is also admired but for having a very forward and boyish personality. Riko accidentally walks into Maki while she's practicing kissing with a pillow and learns that she isn't what everyone thinks she is. Riko is forced into keeping Maki's secret and join her in practicing all aspects of romance like holding hands and more.

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: None. Hey, let's have a show where schoolgirls act like lesbians except they're not really lesbians because it's just practice for a real relationship because they all have to stay pure otherwise the fanbase won't love them anymore and-- *I throw a table out a window*



MAKAI OUJI: DEVILS AND REALIST (/)

GENRES: Comedy, Demons, Fantasy, Shoujo, Supernatural

SYNOPSIS: The story revolves around William, an aristocratic family's progeny with rare intellect. One day, his uncle lost his possessions after his business failed. Fearing that his family's name has been tarnished, William returns home and searches with his family's butler for anything that can be converted into cash. A search of the premises yields an underground room left by an ancestor. In the room is a magical seal, and William unintentionally summons a devil. The summoned devil tells William his name Dantalion, and reveals that William is the designator who can choose the acting ruler of the demon world.

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: Low. Why am I getting Black Butler vibes from this? Anyway, while I do place this a rung above Brothers Conflict, this looks like another series featuring Hot Guys Doing Hot Things While Meeting Other Hot Guys, with some supernatural stuff thrown in as an excuse. The director worked on Sekaichi Hatsukoi and Junjou Romantica, neither of which I'm fond of because of the use of the "rape=love" trope. Her most recent directing gig was Arcana Famiglia, which was just bland and when it wasn't making any sense. The person in charge of series composition has a lot of experience though, so I guess it'll come down to the source material. I'll give it a shot, but I'm not expecting much.



STELLA WOMEN'S ACADEMY, HIGH SCHOOL DIVISION CLASS C(/)

GENRES: School, Military

SYNOPSIS: Yura Yamato has just arrived at the high school division of Stella Women's Academy, when Sonora Kashima invites her to join a club called "C ". Sonora is the third-year student who became the new head of this club for military survival games. The other members include two second-year students (part-Japanese Karila Hatsuse and G36K-wielding Honoka Mutsu) and two other new students (Rento Kirishima whose family runs a Japanese sweets shop and the really short Yachiyo Hinata).

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: Low. While this does have a pretty cool trailer, this series already has two big strikes against it even before its premiere. The first is that there is a lack of material to adapt: two volumes is not much for a series that will (assumingly) run for thirteen episodes. Depending on the studio, this may or may not be a problem, but that ties into the second strike: Gainax is making it. Everyone with the creativity and cool vision that Gainax is famous for have jumped ship to either churn out more Evangelion or to work on newer projects like Little Witch Academia. Basically, I'm not confident. I'm passing on this one unless someone tells me it's the next Girls und Panzer.



INU TO HASAMI WA TSUKAIYOU (/)

GENRES: Comedy, Supernatural

SYNOPSIS: A nonsense comical mystery. Harumi Kazuhito is a high school boy who loves books and is a fan of novelist Natsuno Kirihime. One day, he finds Kirihime writing at a cafe, about to be shot by a robber. He protects her from the attack but is killed instead. Through the supernatural power of a book-worm, he is reincarnated as a dachshund dog. Kazuhito (as a dog) writhes in a painful bookless life, when a sadistic woman carrying a pair of scissors offers him help. She is Kirihime herself.

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: None. They lost me when I saw that animal abuse is apparently the punchline. ...Really strange animal abuse, at that. Not to mention that Gonzo hasn't been doing so well lately. Pass.



A TOWN WHERE YOU LIVE (/)

GENRES: Drama, Romance, Slice of Life

SYNOPSIS: Eba Yuzuki, a girl from Tokyo moves to a countryside to attend high school. She lives together with a guy named Kirishima Haruto whose father is an apprentice of Eba's father. Haruto never agrees to let Yuzuki stay at his house and always rejects her. Another girl, Kanzaki Nanami, comes whom Haruto might be in love with. So... what will happen in this story?

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: None. Nothing about this is grabbing me. It sounds like it'll have a dragged out misunderstanding and/or an unrequited love triangle that is in pretty much every romance anime. And again, Gonzo hasn't been doing too great. Pass.



FANTASISTA DOLL (/)

GENRES: N/A

SYNOPSIS: This original story revolves around cute dolls who fight and power up with special cards.

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: Moderate. ...Honestly, I should be a lot more skeptical of this (or ignore it entirely) but the short PV appeals to the Precure and idol anime fan in me. And besides, it was created by the guy who directed Code Geass, and that show loved laughing at itself. THAT'S MY EXCUSE AND I'M STICKING WITH IT.



FREE! (/)

GENRES: Sports

SYNOPSIS: The story revolves around Haruka Nanase, a boy who has always loved to be immersed in water, and to swim in it. Before graduating from elementary school, he participated in a swimming tournament along with his fellow swimming club members, Makoto Tachibana, Nagisa Hazuki, and Rin Matsuoka. After achieving victory, each of the boys went their separate ways. Time passed, and in the middle of their uneventful high school lives Rin appears and challenges Haruka to a match, showing Haruka his overwhelming power. Not wanting it to end like this, Haruka, gathers together Makoto and Nagisa once again and brings a new member named Rei Ryugazaki to create the Iwatobi High School Swimming Club in order to defeat Rin.

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: High. AWW YEAH. I'm a fan of KyoAni's stuff, so I'm looking forward to seeing how they make a show with girls as the intended audience. They're already doing a fantastic job with the PVs, although the whole "Swimming Anime" thing had the unintended consequence of making Tumblr believe that their outpouring of support caused the studio to immediately green-light the thing. If that were true, then we wouldn't be seeing this until next year. No matter how awesome a studio is, they cannot make something like this within a few months. This has been in the works for a while, and the attention before the announcement was probably a welcome surprise for them. Anyway, I'm getting off track here. I'm excited! The end.



DANGAN RONPA: THE ANIMATION (/) GENRES: Action, Mystery, Horror, Psychological

SYNOPSIS: A group of 15 elite high school students are gathered at a very special, high class high school. To graduate from this high school essentially means you'll succeed in life, but graduating is very difficult. The school is presided over by a bear called Monokuma, and he explains to them that their graduation hinges around committing a murder. The only way to graduate is to kill one of your classmates and get away with it. If the other classmates discover the identity of the killer, the killer is the only one executed. However, if they fail to catch the killer, only the killer graduates and the others are annihilated. Which of the 15 will survive the bloodbath to come?

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: High. YESSSSS. I'm a big fan of the LP/translation of this game over on the Something Awful forums, so let me warn you in advance: this game is completely nuts. The gameplay mechanics are pretty similar to Ace Attorney, where the first half of a chapter has a lot of wandering and talking to people with visual novel styled conversations, with the second half focused around a trial. However, instead of throwing around evidence, you metaphorically shoot contradictions out of the air. ...I have no idea how that is going to work in the anime. But it's definitely a fun ride, albiet a messed-up one. If you're planning to watch this with no prior knowledge of the game, I suggest not poking around for more information since spoilers are everywhere. I look forward to the reactions on Twitter.



GENRES: Mystery, Fantasy

SYNOPSIS: God abandoned the world on Sunday. As a result, nobody in the world can die or reproduce. A little girl, Ai, is the gravekeeper for a village. She has prepared 47 graves for the eventual deaths of every member of the village. Later, a boy who identifies himself as "Hampnie Hambart, the 'Man-eating Toy'," which is coincidentally the name that Ai's mother left behind as the name of her father, arrives in the village and slaughters everybody. Just what is going on?

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: Moderate. I've been burned on light novel adaptations with interesting-sounding premises enough times that I should know better, but this one has me interested anyway. The PV looks pretty good, and the idea of a gravekeeper in a world were no one dies is pretty fascinating by itself. However, I'm still a bit hesitant. When the synopsis contradicts itself--"a world where no one dies," and then in the next line they state that people will die--that doesn't exactly give me confidence in the writing. Still, I'm interested enough to give it a look.



THE WORLD GOD ONLY KNOWS: GODDESS ARC (/)

GENRES: Comedy, Romance, Shounen, Harem, Supernatural

SYNOPSIS: Third season. THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: High. I enjoyed the last two seasons, and I'm happy that it's getting a third. Not much else to say.



ROZEN MAIDEN (2013) (/)

GENRES: Action, Comedy, Drama, Magic

SYNOPSIS: Continuation of the series.

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: High. The manga series has a bit of an interesting history. Despite it being very popular during its run, some rights problems (if I'm remembering correctly) caused Peach Pit (the mangakas) to pull it from the magazine where it was being syndicated, leaving behind a random non-ending with no word on whether or not it would continue. A year later, it started up again in a different magazine in what appeared to be a reboot, but it turned out to be an extended plotline that attempted to give an in-universe reason for the series' absence. It looks like this version will adapt that part of the manga, so I have no problems watching this despite the fact that I've never seen the anime version. Desu!



GIFUU DOUDOU!!: KANETSUGU TO KEIJI (/)

GENRES: Action, Historical, Martial Arts, Samurai, Seinen

SYNOPSIS: The Sengoku era gave birth to many historical legends. One of them is Naoe Kanetsuku, the brilliant military general of the Uesugi family. Together with Maeda Keiji, a legendary warrior on the battlefield, who become lifelong friends with each other, they carve out a piece of history in the most dangerous and volatile time in Japan's history. The two men recall their beginnings and the journey they took to get to the accomplished position they now sit at.

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: Moderate. Fab-looking Sengoku-era dudes...with potentially crappy animation by Deen. Well, the director of Hetalia is involved with this, so maybe I'm worrying about nothing?



HAKKENDEN: TOUHOU HAKKEN IBUN 2 (/)

GENRES: Action, Fantasy, Shoujo, Supernatural

SYNOPSIS: Second season.

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: Moderate. It took me a while to like the first season, but it definitely got better towards the end. Let's see if it can keep that up.



KINIRO MOSAIC (/)

GENRES: Comedy, School, Slice of Life

SYNOPSIS: The story begins with Oomiya Shinobu, a 15-year-old, seemingly pure Japanese girl who actually did a homestay in Great Britain. Even after coming back to Japan, she still misses her time overseas. One day, an airmail letter arrives from Alice, the girl in Shinobu's host family in Great Britain. The letter reads: Shinobu, I'm coming to Japan! The Japanese/British girls' mixed comedy follows the lives of Shinobu, Alice, and other girls from both Japan and Great Britain.

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: None. Filed under: Show I Would Probably Watch If There Weren't a Ton of Shows This Season I Would Rather Watch.



GATCHAMAN CROWDS (/)

GENRES: Adventure, Sci-Fi

SYNOPSIS: The story is set in Japan in the early summer of 2015. 180,000 people live in Tachikawa City, the "second metropolis" of the Tokyo area. Among them are "Gatchaman" -- warriors who fight in special reinforced suits powered by "NOTE," the manifestation of special spiritual powers in living beings. A council has scouted a group of individuals with latent powers to protect Earth from alien criminals. In recent years, the council has assigned Gatchaman warriors to deal with the mysterious entity known as "MESS."

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: High. So I heard that people were mad because there was a girl is this since it's not the 80s? I don't know. Anyway, apparently this has nothing to do with the previous Gatchaman, which is good, because I know nothing about that series (hence the 80s comment. I probably got the decade wrong for all I know). Anyway, this has the team from Tsuritama on it, which is a pretty good way to get me to watch anything. I'm excited to see how this shapes up.



WATAMOTE! a.k.a WATASHI GA MOTENAI NO WA DOU KANGAETEMO OMAERA GA WARUI! (/)

GENRES: Comedy, School, Shounen

SYNOPSIS: Kuroki Tomoko is a super popular, high school girl who has had 50 years of dating experience and 100 boys... in the Otome game world. In the real world, she is a 15-year-old shut in who has all of the qualities of a "mojo" (a gloomy or unpopular woman).

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: High. Otherwise known as "It's Not My Fault I'm Not Popular!" or "The Manga That 4-chan Built." I stumbled across this by accident one day, and it's painfully funny and relatable. I've always thought that it would translate well into an anime, and the PV is glorious. I can't wait!



TAMAYURA: MORE AGGRESSIVE (/)

GENRES: Comedy, Slice of Life

SYNOPSIS: Second season.

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: Moderate. I really enjoyed the OVA series, so I was pretty happy when the first season of the TV version came out. However, since it lacked the framing device of the main character's father and his pictures, the show just kind of wandered around with nothing to do. I ended up putting it on hold when one of the episodes literally put me to sleep, and I haven't gone back to it. However, I miss Tamayura. "More aggressive" sounds like exactly what the series needs.



FUTARI WA MILKY HOLMES (/)

GENRES: Comedy, Mystery, Super Power

SYNOPSIS: Third season.

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: Moderate. When I first saw the title, I thought: "AW YEAH, MILKY HOLMES IS DOING A PRECURE PARODY!" But apparently that's not the case. Very few details have been released, but it has been announced that the main characters will not be the four girls we've grown to know and love, but two new characters instead (the ones towards the front of the key image above). There's also a rumor that this season will take the more serious tone from the VN game, i.e. playing the premise completely straight. Why they would do that is beyond me, since Milky Holmes only works because it never takes itself seriously. In any case, I'll believe it when I see it. There's a good chance we're all being trolled anyway.



KITAKUBU KATSUDOU KIROKU (/)

GENRES: School, Seinen

SYNOPSIS: When a friend asks Natsuki what high school club she's going to join, she cheerfully responds "the go-home club" (meaning, she's not going to join any of them). However, she soon realizes that this club actually exists at her high school, and she's just expressed interest in joining it! Before she knows it, she ends up as one of the two new members of "the go-home club," which is a small group of eccentric school girls. One of the girls likes fighting bears, while another is ridiculously rich. But what exactly constitutes the activities of "the go-home club"?

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: None. Filed under: Show I Would Probably Watch If There Weren't a Ton of Shows This Season I Would Rather Watch.



UCHOUTEN KAZOKU (/)

GENRES: Comedy, Fantasy

SYNOPSIS: In Kyoto, there are three kinds of residents: humans, raccoon dogs, and tengu. Shimogamo Yasaburou is the third son of the Shimogamo raccoon dog family. His father, Souichirou, had been the head of Kyoto raccoon dog community until he was eaten by the human members of "Friday Club". While taking care of old tengu, fighting with other raccoon dogs, and playing with a psychic human girl, Yasaburou approaches the truth of his father's death.

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: High. That premise is pretty confusing, but it's from the guy who wrote Tatami Galazy, which is one of my favorite shows of all time, so this is a must-watch. In fact, they could've replaced the synopsis with "by the writer of Tatami Galaxy" and I'd be just as excited.



MONOGATARI SERIES: SECOND SEASON (/)

GENRES: Comedy, Ecchi, Romance, Supernatural

SYNOPSIS: Adaptation of the second season of the Monogatari Series.

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: Moderate. By "second season," I'm assuming that they mean the rest of the series, since we've already literally had a second season. I ended up marathoning Bakamonogatari and Nisemonogatari back-to-back a while ago, and I definitely enjoyed the first season more. Maybe it was because I watched them right next to each other, but the changes in Nisemonogatari in terms of characterization were more immediately obvious (read: Araragi is the main pervert, as opposed to the camera [a.k.a. Shinbou] acting as the pervert), and I didn't like it. Nekomonogatari was interesting, but the emphasis was placed more on fetish fuel than the backstory it was revealing, which doesn't really give me a lot of confidence about this installment. Still, I've invested this much time in it and would like to know how it ends, so I'll be watching.



FATE/KALEID LINER PRISMA ILLYA (/)

GENRES: Action, Comedy, Fantasy, Magic

SYNOPSIS: Spin-off of Fate/stay night with Illyasviel von Einzbern as the protagonist, living an alternate life as a school girl.

THOUGHTS/PERSONAL HYPE LEVEL: Moderate. Magical girl spinoffs are , but I am interested in seeing how the Fate universe can be bent to fit the genre. However, I'm bracing myself for some...other kinds of scenes, considering that this was originally a doujinshi. Still, it looks like this one has more of a parody bent, considering that the staff Illya is holding should be recognizable to most magical girl fans.



Series information from MAL, Hummingbird, and Anichart.net. Images from MAL and Google Image search.
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